January 31, 2011

Pancetta Progress- Charcutepalooza

You know you are living in the right place when a sign like this is at the exit of the grocery store, to make sure you know about it. At the Meat Counter you can reserve your pork for salting.

The cool air in January is perfect for families to age their own cured pork products. We mostly live in stone homes and have dark cool rooms where salumis can hang next to prosciuttos. My neighbors dedicate a bedroom for their prosciutto to dry. There are laws that allow each family on a farm to raise and slaughter two pigs per family.

Per pig you get:
 two prosciutto's
 two large slabs or pancetta. (Most people here make the "stesa" flat style for cooking with).
 two shoulder pieces can be either preserved for spalla- like prosciutto or the meat is just ground for sausages or salami.
the head is boiled for soprasatta, head cheese.
the blood can be  made into burista, a blood sausage or used fresh for a special crepe.

Then there are the cuts for stew meat  and roast pork.

I don't have a farm, so ordered my pancetta from the local COOP grocery store. That is more than enough for my husband and I. At first, even he was shocked at the amount of pork I bought, but now has embraced the process.

Here is my pork belly, half-way through the curing to become pancetta. Even the raw pork belly is called Pancetta, as it refers to the belly, pancia. I adore sliced fresh pancetta, seasoned and simply grilled.

pancetta - right from the salt cure

I am enjoying the Charcutepalooza assignments and this month have have made a pancetta "stesa".

The flat version is the one we use mostly for cooking with here in Tuscany, the rolled one, arrotolata, is more to be eaten thinly sliced as a part of a salumi tray.

I have Ruhlman's book on Charcuterie, which is our bible for the project. But, since I live in the land of preserving pigs, I am also getting tips from my local farmers and butchers.

I let the pancetta sit for 5 days in its salt cure and removed today and rinsed off the excess rub and cure. I then let it sit and rubbed it down with red wine vinegar. In Italy, vinegar is the disinfectant of choice. I then rubbed the entire pancetta with black pepper and hung to dry.

My husband took the pancetta from the kitchen and brought it upstairs to the dark, cool, place" under the attic to hang.

The local butcher said it should be ready in 5 days. Just before I leave so I will be able to share it with you.

My pantry is never without pancetta, in my final post I will gather together some traditional recipes using pancetta. My guanciale and bacon are waiting for their final treatments.

I treasure my neighbors, butchers and farmers for the Italian life lessons I get daily- Mille Grazie!



  1. Sounds Wonderful! God was having a good day when he made the pig!

  2. Your stesa looks lovvvvely!

  3. Wow great information! Now I know why my Dad ( who makes his own red wine vinegar) uses it for everything and does believe it is a disinfectant!

  4. I am so glad to be living the pork fest through you. But next winter, I may have to jump in myself.

  5. great post, and good tip about the red wine vinegar. do you just rinse with vinegar or do you let the vinegar sit on the pancetta for awhile?

  6. i rinsed with water-- let dry some and then rubbed the whole thing down with red wine vinegar.