Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Making Pancetta

Since the bacons on our just butchered pig were not very big (as expected), I'm making pancetta from some of the better belly pieces.

A small small bacon which is the belly part of the pork. Not like last year's.

Pancetta and not bacon? Can you believe it? Rest easy, friend.... pancetta is a kinda of bacon. Its cured with savory spices and then hung to dry. Its not smoked. But you can use it the same way. Most of last winter I'd slice paper thin pieces and fry them up for breakfast. And when used as the start of a complicated bolognese... oh heaven.

I love Ruhlman's, Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curingand have been using this as my reference for all bacon and meat salting. But he's just released another book, Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curingand I'm going to be all over that. It has a chapter dedicated just to making pancetta!

The pancetta process is easy - first get yourself a pork belly. If you don't have a pork standing in your yard begging you to butcher it- then you can always just ask the guy at your meat counter to order one for you. I don't have any idea how expensive they are. Mine are free. Ha!

Trim up your belly then get your cure ready. The only specialty ingredients you need are "pink salt," such as Instacure #2 for Drying Meats 1 Pound, which has nitrates in it to help with the curing process and also juniper berries (a spice).  Folks have different opinions about nitrates. I think they make salted meats more "bacon-y" and I don't worry about it. I can't find juniper berries at my local grocery so I'll be ordering some online (such as, Juniper Berries Whole - 1.6 OZ). I didn't have it for previous pancettas but those turned out fabulously. The key to pancetta is the savory spices.

Spices - how easy is this? Salt, spices, brown sugar.

Mix up your spices, coat your belly, and seal it up in a bag. Everyday take it out of the fridge and turn it over to keep the cure evenly distributed. After about a week you are go for action. Then find a cool spot and hang your cured meat. I'm a little squeamish about properly rolling a pancetta, as per tradition, so I just wrapped them in cheese cloth and hung them in the basement.

At this point someone normally starts screaming about food safety and aren'tcha gonna die, die, DIE with all that reckless meat hanging? Um. I'm not dead yet and folks have been doing this for centuries. Truth is, I'm more concerned about those folks who got the listeria from their bagged salads and cantaloupes and what not.  The fact is, food from your yard is probably safer than anything you can buy in the store. By the time your food products get to your cart they've probably traveled hundreds of miles and been handled by who knows how many people.

Our pork traveled on its own accord up the hill from its yard.  Then we drug it into the house in big chunks. All within 2 hours. So you go ahead and squawk about food safety but I think I gotcha beat by a mile, if you catch my meaning.

So while I'm disappointed that I'm not going to get any smoked bacon from this pork - I can't wait for this pancetta. It looks to be the best one yet.

Happy Saturday everyone! Whatcha standing there for? Go and cure your meat!


Chai Chai said...

The Keep was always cold at this time of the morning, hence Nicholas and the Posse liked to lounge in the kitchen by the huge fire place and the pulsating heat emanating from smoldering coals. Nicholas was beaming from yesterday's triumph as OFG has "banished" the Prince-ling from the grounds late in the day, he received no choice meats from the upcoming feast - just gristle and bones!

The Keep was full of servants yet Nicholas smiled as he and he alone was personally served and groomed by OFG herself.

For certain celebrations during the year OFG takes the lead in food preparation and a defeat of of her blood enemies, the Pigz, was one of them.

Nicholas laughed aloud as he told himself; "Those dogs are fools, they have been cast from the kitchens for their failures while I, Nicholas, watch as OFG personally sets aside and packages choice bits a meat for my later consumption." Nicholas truly enjoyed watching as the Great OFG packaged choice bits of meat and scrawled something on every bag.

Nicholas never bothered to learn to read as it was a task best left for those of less stature than himself. Of one thing he was sure, that each package had been designated by OFG's own hand to read; "Nicholas breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack."

Traci Sumner said...

I was curing meat, thank you very much. Actually had two types of venison summer sausage in the smoker today, after letting it mellow in the fridge for 2 days. I use Morton's Tender Quick for our cure and have never had a problem with it. I was busy eating smoked cured goodness about 1/2 hour ago. I want it to get a little cooler before I tackle our two belly sides we have from our porker. Unlike your cute little ones, these are massive, as in WAY bigger than I was expecting, so have the cooler thought out while I'm curing. The ham should be an adventure. I've never cured a ham and was expecting about a 12 pound one, it was 22 #. It'll be fine, just an experience.

David said...

How long does it hang?

Ohiofarmgirl said...

* That night Nicholas sauntered up to his liege and without announcement or permission crawled up into her lap as she sat at her books. The dogs glared at such an affront but kept their places. He smirked his victory and settled into "helping" OFG by placing his enormous paws on the kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkeyboard. "Oh yes," He thought, "The world is my oyster."

Great work Traci! We are hoping for some venison this year *looks at Zander and Kai* And yep the bigger cuts are something else. My smoker cant handle huge cuts so I end up cutting them down. One day I'll have a smoke house. Yay!

*OFG realizes that she may not be mature enough to answer the question as posed....snicker* Dave, I'll hang the pancetta to cure for about 5-7 days.. if it were rolled it would need about 2 weeks.

Jonathan said...

Do you hang the hogs before cutting?

Ohiofarmgirl said...

hey Jonathon! yep we hang them overnite. needs to be below 40* or you need to quarter them and shove them in an almost empty fridge. cooling will help the meat "set" so it will be easier to work with. unlike beef, pork does not need to "age."

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