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