Q:

What is a good recipe for making pancetta?

A:

Quick Answer

To make your own pancetta, a type of cured pork belly, spread 2 tablespoons each of whole juniper berries and whole black peppercorns onto a rimmed baking sheet. Crush the berries and peppercorns with the bottom of a heavy pot or skillet.

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Full Answer

Combine 1/3 cup of kosher salt, 3 tablespoons of packed dark brown sugar, 2 teaspoons of curing salt and 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg. Mince 3 medium garlic cloves, and tear 3 fresh or 5 dry bay leaves into small pieces. Add these ingredients to the bowl with 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme leaves and 1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary leaves.

Place a half slab of pork belly, about 5 1/2 pounds, fat side down on a flat surface, and level and square off the meat with a sharp boning knife. Rinse the pork in water, and pat it dry with a clean towel. With the meat side down on a cutting board, remove the skin by starting at one corner and sliding the knife just between the fat layer and skin. Even out the remaining fat layer with the knife.

Move the pork belly to the baking sheet, and rub the spice and salt mix over it to coat both sides. Seal the pork belly in a large plastic bag, squeezing out as much air as possible. Store the bag in the refrigerator with a 3-pound weight on top. Store it for seven to 10 days, flipping it daily until the meat feels firm to the touch.

Roll the pork into a tight cylinder, and secure it with butcher’s twine. Allow the pancetta to cure in a cool, dark place with good air circulation for two weeks. Cut the pancetta, and store it in the refrigerator or freezer.

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