Friday, 28 June 2013

Making Pancetta

Last week we were fortunate to successfully trap three wild pigs. In the post Mid-Winter Bounty I reported that we took advantage of the trapping and harvested as much meat as our ability and fridge space allowed.
In that post I mentioned that we were preserving the meat bounty by making pancetta and smoked hams.Well, many of you asked that I post on the processes and in this post I document how I am making  our own pancetta.

Making pancetta
I referred to the book Gourmet Farmer Deli Book  to make the pancetta - thank you lads.

The recipe required a 2kg piece of pork belly - we were able to harvest a 1.8kg piece. The pig was incredibly lean and so I am certain that the piece of pork belly we used was much leaner than is usually the case when making pancetta. Whether that will make any difference will I guess be seen in time.

Pancetta is essentially un-cooked and un-smoked piece of pork which is cured in salt and herbs and left to mature. The process goes like this (* indicates that the ingredient is from Highfield):

Pound 10 sage leaves*, 1 sprig of rosemary* and 10 black peppercorns with a half a teaspoon of salt. The resultant mix is a wonderfully green dryish rub. The recipe called for a grated nutmeg as well but unfortunately I didn't have any available (and I live in the bush so no quick trip to the shop!) and left the nutmeg out. I hope that it doesn't matter!

Add this to 200gms medium grained salt and rub into the pork belly*. Place the meat in a non-reactive dish and leave to cure in the fridge for three days. I am sorry, I didn't take a photo at this stage.

After three days it looks like this - the liquid has been drawn from the meat and the meat has darkened.

Rinse off the salt and  grind up another batch of sage, rosemary and peppercorns with another half a teaspoon of salt. Rub into the non-skin side of the meat. The texture of the meat has changed incredibly - it is dryer and harder.

At this point the recipe again calls for grated nutmeg...but, I didn't get to the shops.

Then, the scary bit - leave it to hang for 4 weeks but 6 weeks is said to be preferable. Hanging is supposed to happen in a cool and airy (but not breezy)  place at about 12 degrees C. In winter here is is generally a little warmer than that outside, so I decided to hang the meat inside. Our very basic house in winter is currently un-heated and un-insulated (that will change)... so generally quite cool and stable in temperature. I decided to hang the pancetta in the laundry.

You need to push some cotton twine thru the meat with a skewer to hang the meat.

Some flies from summer have survived in our house and are over-wintering here (despite our attempts to eradicate them!) so I ruled out hanging without some covering. I decided a loose-fitting protective covering of calico was the go. Here is the appropriately laundry-themed result.

So that's the story so far, at least until 4 weeks have elapsed. I am, hoping that it will look like pancetta and not be some slimy, horrible, smelly monster. Let's see.

In the meantime, have you preserved meat in some way? How?


  1. Wow, sounds like an adventure. I've never preserved meat so have nothing to offer, but I'm looking forward to seeing how this turns out!

  2. I've seen it done in Italy with a kind of box with panels of fly screen material (like you use for doors).



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