pancetta with slice
pancetta with slice
Pork belly. I’m going to let those words roll around your tongue for a while. Perhaps I’ll type them again. Pork belly. Beautiful words, yes? Before February’s Charcutepalooza challenge was even announced I had acquired a thick, fatty, gorgeous pork belly from a pasture-raised Berkshire pig. It had been delivered on a Friday morning by Patrick McNiff of Pat’s Pastured farm in Jamestown, Rhode Island and then butchered in front of my camera by Chef Champe Speidel of Persimmon Provisions butcher shop in Barrington, Rhode Island. When the photo session was done (the photos will be in the upcoming spring issue of Edible Rhody) I said, “I’m buying that pork belly.” David, who works at Persimmon Provisions, also said, “I’m buying that pork belly.” Fortunately, there’s two sides to every animal, so we avoided pork belly tension. Have I achieved any kind of record for the number of times one can type “pork belly” in a paragraph? Charcutepalooza I put the belly in my refrigerator, planning on spending some time that weekend curing it. I have often made un-smoked slab bacon (essentially slab pancetta) and had come very close to a recipe I liked the last time I had done it, so I had hoped to perfect it with the nine-plus pounds of belly now wrapped in plastic in my refrigerator. Clearly the pork belly has mystical powers because it was revealed on Saturday morning that the February Charcutepalooza challenge was The Salt Cure. How often do you find yourself with a large cut of pork belly and the possibility of winning a prize by curing that pork belly? I know what you’re saying: not often enough. First thing I did was split the belly into two pieces. The extremely thick end weighed in at about 3 1/2 pounds and that was set aside for bacon. The rest, which was still pretty thick and proved a bit difficult to roll, I cured with the pancetta recipe straight out of Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn’s Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing. I still haven’t completely decided if I’ve perfected my bacon cure yet, but if you like your bacon a little on the spicy/savory side, you can give this a try: [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:1] Before closing, a quick story about my wonderfully faithful and protective black Labrador named Bayou (yes, she was born in Louisiana). I hang most of my charcuterie out in the open in our basement. Each time I hang a piece of meat, Bayou wanders down to the basement and sniffs every square inch of the floor, hunting for something she knows smells delicious, but she can never find it. I’m not sure if I’ll be upset or proud on the day Bayou finally figures out that all she has to do is look up. Photos and captions will tell the rest of my curing tale. Thank you again to Mrs. Wheelbarrow and The Yummy Mummy.
Berkshire pork belly after curing for bacon, prior to roasting
Berkshire pork belly after curing for bacon, prior to roasting
Berkshire pork belly after curing for bacon, prior to roasting (reverse view)
Berkshire pork belly after curing for bacon, prior to roasting (reverse view)
pork belly cured for bacon, seen after roasting, fresh from the oven
pork belly cured for bacon, seen after roasting, fresh from the oven
close-up cross section of bacon
close-up cross section of bacon
the bacon now having cooled
the bacon now having cooled
full view of bacon cross-section
full view of bacon cross-section
cooked bacon, soon to be inside grilled cheese sandwiches, alongside a jar of glowing bacon fat
cooked bacon, soon to be inside grilled cheese sandwiches, alongside a jar of glowing bacon fat
bacon fat, strained through cheesecloth
bacon fat, strained through cheesecloth
portion of pork belly cured for pancetta
portion of pork belly cured for pancetta
belly rolled, tied and ready to hang
belly rolled, tied and ready to hang
pancetta tie job 1
pancetta tie job 1
pancetta tie job 2
pancetta tie job 2
close-up of rolled belly and trussing
close-up of rolled belly and trussing
hung
hung
finished pancetta, cut in two
finished pancetta, cut in two
one half of the rolled pancetta
one half of the rolled pancetta
one thin slice
one thin slice
One more time: pork belly

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