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Friday, January 7, 2011

Home-made Flat Pancetta - Pancetta Tesa

In Italy, up to 40-50 years ago, raising a hog for a year and then killing it for home consumption was a rule in all families and mine was no exception. The best time for this particular operation was the winter. Therefore, during the months of January and February was salumi making time – sausages, prosciutto, pancetta and capicolli. Nothing was thrown away.  The ears were braised, the tongue poached, the feet thrown in sauce and the skull and the bones used for stock.  Today, we do not raise a pig but we maintain the tradition of making home-made sausages and pancetta.
Cured Flat Pancetta
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 Flat Pancetta - Pancetta Tesa


1 - 2 - 3 lb. pork belly with skin on
1/2 lb. kosher salt
3 tablespoons crushed red pepper
3 tablespoons coarsely crushed fennel seeds
3 tablespoons coarsely crushed black pepper

Pork belly with skin on

Home-made crushed red pepper

Spices - Fennel seeds, black pepper
red pepper

Take a 2 to 3 lb. pork belly with skin on.  Place it in a deep pan (Corning wear) and cover it with 1/2 inch of Kosher salt.  Cover with a cloth and place a heavy object on top of it (I use two filled gallons).  The pressure helps excrete the water out of the meat.  Every other day, turn it over, up to 6 to 7 days.
After a week, remove the pork belly from the salt and wash thoroughly with white wine.  Repeat several times until all salt is removed.  Pat thoroughly dry.

Prepare a mixture of spices - black pepper, fennel seeds and  red pepper.  Place the mixture of spices in a mortar and crush.   

Rub and press the spice mixture all over the dry pork belly.

At one corner of the pork belly make a hole.  With a butcher string create a loop and hang it to age in a cool place.  (Curing chamber not needed).  We use our basement cantina.  Curing time 30 to 45 days.  Optimal temperature 40 to 50 degrees - 70% humidity.

Whenever you want to "kick up" a dish, add pancetta.