Ruhlman Pancetta Challenge

Ruhlman Pancetta Challenge

p6040004.JPG Here’s the beginning of the pancetta. I had to buy commercial pork, which is kind of a bummer, but our local organic pork people won’t have another pork belly until the next time they butcher (in about a month) and I wanted to get going. So, here it is, the five pound section of my whole commercial pork belly that seemed to have the most even thickness. It’s pretty thick — I think rolling it might be more of a challenge than I’d anticipated, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

So far this was really easy. I mixed up the dry rub in a dish, then smooshed it all over the pork. I’ve been flipping it once a day (we’re on day 4 now) and it seems to be firming up nicely.

And it smells great — my fridge smells faintly of bay leaves (nice true bay leaves from my stepmother’s tree in Seattle), juniper berries, nutmeg, garlic, pepper, salt and brown sugar and pork. I added a little of this nice mild Aleppo pepper I bought at World Spice the last time I was in Seattle — I’m never very good at following recipes exactly and this all smelled like a tiny bit of chile would just be perfect.

So now we wait, and flip the pork, and wait a little more. Photos of the rolling to come. And I need to figure out where I’m going to hang it — my canning closet in the basement might be cool enough — I have to get new batteries for the remote thermometer and check (the one unit with batteries is doing important duty underneath the plastic covering the tomatoes — the min/max is invaluable this time of year when I’m trying to foil the frost.)

My mother was teasing me on the phone the other day about still liking to play with my food — guilty as charged. Between the game, pancetta and my adventures in real milk — there’s a lot of playing with food going on around here.

2 thoughts on “Ruhlman Pancetta Challenge

  1. This is exciting! I’ve cured pork belly for bacon using Ruhlman’s recipe from Charcuterie, both with and without nitrates — have to say, liked the nitrate version better, plus it had that pretty red bacon color. I wanted to do pancetta too but don’t have a decent place to hang it. Someone told me I could hang it in my spare fridge if I raised the temperature and just remembered to open the door every day for ventilation. Now that’s energy efficient.

    By the way, if you ever get desperate for belly again out of season, you can order it from the Niman Ranch website. Pricy, but better than supporting Smithfield or its ilk.

  2. I saw the Neiman Ranch site after I’d already ordered a pork belly from my local butcher — I like Matt so much, and he makes such great bacon that I was sort of hoping he had a local source — but no, it was an Armour slab (no love lost for them — went to grammar school with both Armours and Swifts). I think there are a few other local pork sources around here — my friends Scott and Jennifer bought a pig from someone over near Manhattan — and my Milk Lady raises some pigs too — I think next year I can get on her pig list. But for now, it’s a slab of commercial pig — and hanging is the next challenge. I was looking at the River Cottage Meat book and it says that you can hang it unrolled if you want, or really, you don’t necessarily have to hang it at all. I think my canning closet in the basement should be about right — I’m going to give it a try.

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