An Italian bacon, made from the layer of fat and flesh located along the belly of a pig, that is cured with salt, and often with other spices including pepper, cinnamon, and cloves. Regular pancetta is not smoked, though there are varieties (called smoked pancettas, which are more or less regular bacon), that are. It is slightly salty, and very flavorful.

The curing is done while the meat is still attached to the skin. It is marinated and/or cured for about two weeks, then the meat is stripped from the skin, and stuffed into sausage casings. It's then hung and aged for four to six weeks, with a lot of attention paid to the air flow and humidity during this time.

I found this recipe for making pancetta, for anyone willing to give it a try...

Pancetta

1 pork belly-skin on, about 10 pounds
1/2 cup salt
2 teaspoons Prague powder #1 (NaNO2)
2 Tbs white pepper
2 Tbs mace
2 Tbs garlic, powdered
2 Tbs dextrose
5 juniper berries

Mix salt, sugar, juniper berries and cure--pulverize in spice grinder and divided mixture in half.

Add pepper, mace and garlic to one of the divided mixtures.

Dust the meat side of the belly with the salt cure (without the spices). Using latex gloves, rub the curing mixture vigorously into the meat.

Place the belly in a large plastic bag, secure the open end, and refrigerate at 37 degrees F for 4 days.

After 4 days remove the belly from the bag and rub in the remaining curing mixture (with the spices) and refrigerate for an additional 4 days at 37 degrees F.

Remove belly from bag, and soak in cool water for 20 minutes to remove excess surface salts.

Attach a bacon hook to one end of the belly and air dry at 55 degrees F for 2 days.

Soak two 5-inch fibrous casing in water for about an hour and a half.

Remove the skin from the belly and square off the meat. Divide the belly in two.

Roll each belly piece into a tight roll and place in the casing. Note: I found that slicing the casing along its length allowed me to get a "tight fit" when I roll up the pancetta. Tie the pancetta with sausage twine around the circumference every 1/2 inch or so to make a neat firm log.

Hang for 10 days at 55 degrees F and 50% relative humidity. Refrigerate and use any time after this date.

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