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How to Make Homemade Pancetta

How to make homemade pancetta
Prep Time7 d
Total Time7 d
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: bacon, how to, pancetta
Servings: 3 pounds

Ingredients

  • 3.5 lbs pork belly about 2" thick with skin left on
  • 2 cups kosher salt
  • 8 oz sugar
  • 2 oz pink salt sodium nitrite
  • 1 tsp dried garlic
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 15 each juniper berries
  • 3 each star anise pods
  • 2 each bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Instructions

  • Mix together the kosher salt, the sugar and the pink salt. You won’t use all of it, but mix it together in a large bowl. Whatever you don’t use should be stored for later in an airtight container.
  • Toast all the dried herbs and spices in a saute pan until fragrant and then grind them in a spice grinder (we use an old coffee bean grinder). Mix the toasted and ground spices in a small bowl with the brown sugar.
  • Sprinkle the salt/sugar/pink salt over the pork belly, coating it liberally. I think we probably used about 1/4 cup of the mix. Then rub the pork on all sides with the spice and brown sugar mix (we used all of this). Put the coated pork belly in a large zip lock bag and seal.
  • Place in the refrigerator for 7 days, turning every day or so to make sure the cure is evenly coating the pork.
  • After a week, remove it from the bag, rinse of all the cure and pat it dry. At this point, you can cook it up, or do as we did (and as Ruhlman suggests), hang it in a cool dry place for another week to “age” and continue the dry cure process. My mother is blessed with a rare commodity in Southern California, a basement. It’s very small, but it stays at a consistent cool and dry temperature. We created a bag for the bacon out of cheesecloth because I was concerned about insects (specifically ants which are currently plaguing us) but fortunately, the pork never got attacked.
  • After 7 days we unwrapped the bacon and discovered a little mold had started to grow. Don’t panic! Like cheese, we just cut it off. My guess is that the cheesecloth bag, while practical, had encouraged a bit of moisture which caused the mold. The first thing we noticed, besides the heavenly, bacony, smell, was how firm the pork belly had become during the cure process. It was no longer a wobbly, flabby, piece of belly. It had become a firm, lean piece of bacon!