Ingredients

How to make it

  • If you’re starting with a full (11-pound) piece of fresh pork belly, slice it in half crosswise to make two (5-1/2-pound) pieces. You only need one half for this project, so seal up the other well with plastic wrap and freeze it for up to 6 months.
  • Place the pork belly meat side up. Using a sharp boning knife, make the piece more level by trimming off any extra bits of muscle or fat. Square off the edges with a chef’s knife.
  • Rinse the pork belly and pat it dry. Place it on a cutting board, skin side up. To remove the skin, use a sharp boning knife. Starting at the bottom left corner, slice in horizontally just under the skin but above the fat layer. Pull the flap of skin toward your body, holding it taut as you loosen it from the fat with a series of small horizontal cuts. Be careful not to remove too much fat or cut too deeply. (Pulling the skin toward you as you cut helps prevent this.)
  • Keep cutting until the skin is completely removed, then use your knife to even out the fat layer a little.
  • Place the 2 tablespoons of peppercorns and the juniper berries on a rimmed baking sheet. Use a heavy pot to crush them. Combine them in a mixing bowl with the rest of the cure ingredients. Mix the cure very well to evenly distribute the ingredients.
  • Place the pork belly on a rimmed baking sheet and rub the cure all over its surfaces, making sure to coat both the fat and lean sides, and all the edges and corners. Carefully place the belly in a large (2- to 2-1/2-gallon) sealable bag. Once it’s inside, rub the belly to redistribute the ingredients that may have fallen off while you moved it. Fold over the excess plastic and press down to remove as much air as possible. Seal the bag. (Alternatively, you may place the cure-coated belly in a glass baking dish and cover tightly with plastic wrap.)
  • Place the bagged pork belly on a baking sheet and place it in the refrigerator. Weight it by placing a pot or dish that is roughly the same size as the pork right on top of the bag, and place a 3-pound weight in the dish. (A box of salt or a few cans of tomatoes work great.)
  • Refrigerate the weighted belly for 7 days, flipping it over every day. After 7 days, remove the belly from the refrigerator and press down on it to check the firmness. It should feel uniformly firm throughout, as if you’re pressing down on a soccer ball. If the belly is still squishy like raw meat, return it to the refrigerator for up to 3 more days.
  • Remove the pork belly from the refrigerator and rinse off the curing mixture under cool running water. (It’s OK if there are still a few bits of pepper or spices on the belly.)
  • Move the pork to a clean cutting board and pat it very dry with paper towels. Place it meat side up. Crush the remaining tablespoon of black peppercorns with a heavy pot and rub the crushed pepper over all the meat sides to create an even coating.
  • Roll the pork belly very, very tightly into a cylindrical shape, starting at whichever end makes the roll most uniform. Make sure there are no air pockets inside the pancetta. Tie it very tightly with butcher’s twine at 1- to 1-1/2-inch intervals. Be sure to leave enough extra twine to hang the pancetta with.
  • Hang the pancetta in a slightly cool, dark, moderately humid place where air can circulate freely around it. (Ideal conditions are around 60°F and around 60 percent humidity.) Keep it out of direct sunlight and away from air vents. A basement is ideal, as is a bathroom that isn’t used often (a shower curtain rod works great for hanging, but not if you’re showering in there!). I hung mine both next to the kitchen sink and in the bathroom, and I never had one pancetta go bad.
  • Let the pancetta hang for 2 weeks. It will emit a subtle smell, sort of savory and sweet like the cure. If it smells rancid or rotten, take it down and trash it. When the pancetta is completely firm but pliable like leather, it’s ready.
  • Cut down the pancetta and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Store it in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 4 months.
  • Note: Pancetta is not meant to be eaten uncooked. Be sure to cook it, just as you would bacon, before eating.

Reviews & Comments 17

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  • davik 4 years ago
    sorry, double post
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  • davik 4 years ago
    My first batch of this finished yesterday, and it's spectacular. It's quite salty (hey, it is cured), but sliced and fried up like bacon it gets a nice crisp crust while still being juicy and tender on the inside. I will say that if you aren't familiar with the two half hitches knot, learn it before trying this; I was having trouble getting it rolled tightly enough until I put one every 3/4" and yanked on it hard.
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  • hagrid 4 years ago
    Cool recipe - just slapped on the cure - 4 weerks to wait! Curses! Looking forward to giving it the taste test - perhaps I may have to force myself to have a beer with it to counter act the salt. No other reason - obviously
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  • davik 4 years ago
    This sounds truly delicious; I think I'm going to hit up the good butcher this weekend and get a half a pork belly for this. I may deviate a little, however, and take half of that portion after most of the hanging and stick it in the smoker over low heat just to see the difference.
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  • mig 6 years ago
    Wow... This is one loonnggg recipe.. Hehehe.. I love bacon and I'm curious about it's taste from pancetta. I'll try this sometime soon... =)
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    " It was excellent "
    lunasea ate it and said...
    Wow - this is amazing. I cannot wait to try your recipe. Great post, hon - thanks so much!
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    " It was excellent "
    vino4dino ate it and said...
    I was glad to see this recipe of yours. I have been making apple wood smoked bacon, Tasso Ham and several sausages this past year and I really enjoy it. I have been wanting to make prosciutto, but I can't think of a safe place to hang one for two years. Besides, waiting two weeks is hard enough. Right now all I have is a quick cure which works well with the cured meats I make; however I would not use it on this recipe. I just might get the pork belly and curing salt this weekend and get started. I'll let you know how it turns out. Thanks Greek Goddess. Oh, I mean Greek Girl. :)
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    " It was excellent "
    trigger ate it and said...
    I have this book marked
    Is there anything you do not make to perfection !!

    Michael
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    " It was excellent "
    uk2nyc ate it and said...
    Well it would be a sin for me to make Pancetta in Italy. but i have to try it someday..Will give it a shot! Thanks Helene
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    " It was excellent "
    chriesi ate it and said...
    That is great!
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  • frankieanne 6 years ago
    Wonderful post. Thank you.
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    " It was excellent "
    robertg ate it and said...
    I smoked and honey treated a pork belly a few years ago and it was great,so will have to try this as it's impossible to get any pancetta around here.Thanks for a very informative post...Bob
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    " It was excellent "
    grandmommy ate it and said...
    Thanks for this one. This is the kind of thing my husband likes to do. He recently made Canadian beacon and it was wonderful. I saved this for him.
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    " It was excellent "
    grandmommy ate it and said...
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  • greekgirrrl 6 years ago
    Trust me..it's not hard to do..it's the waiting for a taste of it..2 weeks sometimes 3 weeks..depends on humidity levels..makes it taste that much better when you do actually get to have some! Ciao!
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    " It was excellent "
    peetabear ate it and said...
    thank you for a wonderful recipe... I'm getting to the mind set that the best thing we can do for ourselves is to do it ourself... I will try this
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  • linebb956 6 years ago
    How different.. I will have to try this next fall when it gets cool here again.... I love pancetta and cannot get a good product here. They also do not sell pork belly, so will have to order.. Have U tried making this? sounds like U have..
    Linda
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