The pancetta that we started has been hanging in my parents’ fridge for 2 weeks. It was looking good, not too dried out, so we decided to sample some last night.
The small end. We didn't get the meat wrapped quite tightly enough, there were definite air pockets. Made us doubly glad we decided to air-cure this in the fridge.
Here you can clearly see the air pockets inside of the rolled meat. Maybe next time we'll butterfly the belly piece to get it thinner so it will wrap tighter? There must be a better way to do this.
I love the swirls of white fat and pink meat here. The pink meat all the way through to the center shows that the cure penetrated the meat.
We finally screwed our courage to the sticking place and fried up a thin slice. Right now it is intensely porky and salty, with a strong resinous flavor from the juniper berries, garlic, and other herbs and spices in the initial cure, and a strong peppery bite at the end. This is definitely not something you'd want to eat a chunk of like bacon, it's definitely something to use as a flavoring ingredient. It was delicious and complex and I can't wait to cook with some!
After poking it, prodding it, slicing off some, and tasting it, we decided to let it hang for another week. It’s not drying out like the book cautions against but it’s also not firm all the way through, so I think some more air-drying needs to happen.
Thanks to Mike Thomas, my dad, today’s guest photographer!