Now that we have tackled bacon, let look next to making our own pancetta. Pancetta is sometimes looked at as just being Italian bacon but I believe nothing touches its unique taste. If you love Italian food home made pancetta is not out of the reach of any home cook. Like our bacon we made last time we make our curing mix and spices then cure for a week. With Pancetta we also want to dry cure for an additional week. We can do this by hanging our Pancetta in a cool humid place (between 50 and 60 degrees F) but being summer now I used the refrigerator and a rack. In talking with other chefs I discovered some use a wine refrigerator. Play with the spices to get your own unique taste. Grind some up to make your own authentic bolognese meat sauce or add to your ground beef to make some extra special hamburgers or meatloaf. I used the recipe from my well used version of "Charcuterie" by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn changing it slightly to my taste.
5 pounds pork belly
2 oz. dry cure mix
1/4 cup light brown sugar
5 Tbsp. peppercorns
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
3-5 bay leaves depending on size
2 tsp. thyme
10 juniper berries
6 garlic cloves minced
extra 4 Tbsp. crushed peppercorns
Dry Cure Mix
10 tsp. pink curing salt (instacure #1)
1 pound kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1. Mix the dry cure ingredients and store in a glass jar. Grind the peppercorns, juniper berries, red pepper flakes, bay leaves and thyme to the same size as the kosher salt. Mix in 2 oz. of the dry cure mix and add the brown sugar and garlic. Mix well.
2. Trim the pork belly removing any silver skin and visible fat. Rub the cure mixture evenly over the pork belly and seal in a zip-lock bag. Cure in the refrigerator for seven days turning the bag each day. After a week check to see if the pork has firmed up. Add a couple of days if needed and recheck.
3. Rinse the pork belly and dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the extra crushed peppercorns over the meat side and roll the belly up tightly lengthwise so the you will be cutting across the grain if you sliced across the roll. Tie the roll every inch with butcher's twine.
4. Hang in a cool humid place (between 50 and 60 degrees) for an additional week. I used my refrigerator as my home's temperature is in the 70's. After the drying process use within 3 weeks cooking before using.