Pancetta is a type of Italian bacon made from pork belly meat that is salt cured and spiced. Pancetta can be served as a thin cold cut or used in cooking. When used in cooking, the pancetta is typically cut into cubes (cubetti di pancetta).
There are two basic types of pancetta. Stesa is typical of southern and central Italy, while arrotolata is a traditional northern version.
Stesa is flat pancetta. This is the pancetta most commonly cut into cubetti di pancetta and used when cooking. It can also be cut into thick stripes and grilled. You can read the recipe below.
Arrotolata is rolled pancetta. It is usually cut into thin slices and served as antipasti or in a sandwich.Pancetta coppata is a version of arrotolata where coppa is added to the center of the roll. Coppa, also known as capicola, is a traditional Italian and Corsican dry-cured pork cold cut made from the muscle running from the neck to the 4th or 5th rib of the pork shoulder or neck. You can read a recipe here.
Make your own Pancetta Tesa from pork belly
- 2 pound pork belly with skin
- ½ pound coarse salt
- White wine for washing the pork, repeatedly
- 3 tablespoons coarsely crushed fennel seeds
- 3 tablespoons coarsely crushed black pepper
- 3 tablespoons crushed red pepper
- Place the pork belly in a deep pan and cover it with ½ inch of coarse salt. Put a clean cloth on top. Use heavy objects to press it all down. You can for instance use two 1-gallon jugs filled with water. Salt and pressure will both serve to excrete water out of the pork.
- Leave the pork like this for a week. Every other day, turn it over and cover again.
- Brush the salt off the pork and wash the pork thoroughly with white wine. You will need to wash several times to clean the outside from salt.
- Pat the pork dry and set aside.
- Use a mortar to ground fennel, black pepper and red pepper. Stir together to make a freshly grounded spice mix.
- Rub and press the spice mix all over the dry pork belly.
- Use a sharp object to make a hole at one corner of the pork belly. Create a loop with a butcher string and hang the pork to age in a cool place for 1 to 1 ½ month or so.You don’t need a special curing chamber, but it is important that the environment is sufficiently cool. A temperature that stays within the 40 – 50 degrees F (4 – 10 degrees C) span is recommended, as is a humidity around 70%. In Italy, the cellar of the house is used. It should also be noted that in Italy, pancetta tesa is typically prepared in the winter time.