Pancetta, a.k.a. Italian Bacon

Bacon is a reason for living. Honestly. I am not being dramatic. It really is a good enough to stay alive for, if you were feeling like maybe you shouldn’t… for some reason. As you may have figured out by now if you have been following my blog for a while, bacon is serious around here. I make my own bacon. I like to cook with bacon – a lot! My kids have staged a coupe for bacon.

Recently, I read Farm City by Novella Carpenter. This book was awesome! I was hugely impressed by what she was able to do with a city plot, including raising 2 pigs. I’m not talking teacup pigs either. These were 2 HUGE pigs. After raising them, she had them butchered and made into many different cuts, including a variety of Italian salumi.

Being the nutjob that I am, I was immediately like “How can I get me some pigs!?” I live next to a green space here in Seattle and started scheming on ways to start squatting on the lang and raising pigs. Fortunately(?), my husband is a rational man and he set about to deter me. Quickly. However, he was unable to deter me from tackling making salumi. Even if I didn’t have my own pig to do it with.

I figured the most obvious place to start would be with Italian bacon, otherwise known as Pancetta. I am used to working with pork belly by now, so I did a bit of research and found a couple of recipes that looked manageable and sort of threw them together to come up with something that I thought I would like. I always want to go spicy, but figured I should go traditional until I had a handle on how the whole thing would come together.

I mostly used this recipe from to get things rolling. I never use pink salt (it is a nitrate based curing salt), so I skipped that part. As you can see in the photos, the rosemary in my yard is in bloom, so I included the flowers in the cure. If you have never tried flowers from your yard, you should, especially if they are on an edible plant. I have eaten apple blossoms, kale blossoms, etc. They usually taste like the main plant, but more nuanced.

After our lovely pancetta was hung for 2 weeks, we took it down (per the recipe) and sliced into it. My husband said we should have let it go a month, but I was worried about molding. We did have some slight molding – the bad green kind according to this site, so we simply cut off the end. I suspect I simply didn’t get it wrapped up tightly enough. It was hard to roll. With the fatty side out it was like trying to make a fish into a cigarette!

I have cut off several slices already and have cooked them up with sautéed spinach, as well as wrapped several pieces around a couple of steaks that I threw on the BBQ. Technically, my oldest wrapped them. He insisted that we do so. He once informed me that he would kill himself if I made us all go vegetarian and he couldn’t have bacon. The boy has a problem! OK, so the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree 🙂

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