Here it is … the pancetta — finished and cut. This was SO easy. It takes three weeks, but other than that, the actual preparation was a cinch. All I did was rub the cure on the pork belly and let it sit in the fridge for a week (flipping it every day or so). Then I rolled it and hung it in the basement. You’re supposed to let it hang for 2 weeks, but since even with the humidifier going I couldn’t get the humidity above 20%, and the pancetta looked like it was both getting “hard” (to quote the recipe) and starting to get little mold specks on it, I took it down after 8 days and let it sit, loosely wrapped in the fridge for the next week or so.
Saturday I pulled it out and cut it into chunks, which I sealed with my FoodSaver machine (love my seal-a-meal), and froze. Of course, I fried up a little chunk to see how it tasted (unlike Bob over at Hunger Artist, mine was not heirloom pork raised by someone I know, and I am not trying it raw) — it was delicious — the texture was different than the commercial pancetta I’ve been buying these last few weeks. It’s drier, and the meaty part was almost ham-like — probably because it was the end piece, so it was a little drier anyway.
I’d do this again in a flash — and next time I’ll definitely spring for the organic pork — if you look at Bob’s pancetta compared to mine it’s much more meaty. For now, this is still better than commercial, and since I’m lobbying my milk and egg lady for one of her pigs next year, that gives me plenty of time to plan.
I’d like to try some other cured meats — I’m particularly interested in doing some dried sausages, but I have to figure out a solution to the humidity problem first. There’s a used appliance place just across my back alley, I might have to look into getting a small used fridge so I can control the temps and humidity better — basically, we live in the high desert out here, and the humidity is almost never more than about 30%. I’ll have to think about it.
In the meantime, I was out in the garden pulling up the last of the tomatoes this weekend, and I noticed I have some beautiful frisee out there — I’m thinking lunch might have to be frisee salad with pancetta and a poached egg — yum yum.