After a few people seemed to be interested in my little hobby on Instagram I toyed with the idea of starting a blog. I have had a few requests for recipes and advice so thought I might try my hand at posting some bits and pieces on here.
Now, I am by no means an expert. This is really just a hobby for me. It’s just something I do for myself because I really like experimenting with food and I like to see what I can find locally by foraging. I often adapt numerous recipes to find what works for me, and I have a few cookbooks in high rotation, which I will share in various posts.
I thought I would start off with something that I have been wanting to do for a while. In Tasmania we have access to so many amazing local products. This is a pancetta made using all Tasmanian products that have been sourced and produced locally. Here goes…
All of the ingredients were sourced locally by foraging or purchased from Tasmanian producers. The recipe I used is based on the Pancetta recipe in the Cured book by Lindy Wildsmith. For this pancetta I used the following:
2kg Pork Belly
80g Sea Salt Flakes (plus extra for later)
2 Tbs Tasmanian Pepper Berries – ground/crushed
3-4 Cloves of Garlic – crushed
1 tsp Crushed Chili Flakes
4-5 Juniper Berries – crushed
5-6 Tbs Brandy/White Wine (I used wine)
Bay Leaves (crushed)
Pepper Berry Leaves (crushed)
When I order my pork belly I ask for the bone out, skin on, no scoring and always ask for the thickest piece possible – the thicker the better. My pork was trimmed pretty nicely (I got mine from Conmurra Farm), but you may need to trim a little to tidy it up.
Mix 80g of the salt (I used Tasman Sea Salt) with about half of the pepper. I really like pepper so can by a bit heavy handed with it, you may prefer to use less. I rubbed this mix into the pork and let it sit in the fridge for 3 days (always skin side down). If you can, have the pork sitting up on a rack so the moisture can drain away. The time may vary depending on the size of the meat.
After 3 days the pork was firmer to the touch. I don’t weigh anything at this point with pancetta, I just go more by feel. Brush the salt and pepper mix off, and rub in the crushed garlic and white wine. Wine or brandy would work here as it is the sugar that ferments and cures the meat and the alcohol sterilises, so any high sugar alcohol would probably work. I used a Pinot Gris from Josef Chromy. I also rubbed in the remaining pepper, and handful of salt and the juniper berries and crushed bay leaf at this point. I did also use some pepper berry leaves which have a more subtle pepper flavour than the berries. Once everything is rubbed in, rest the meat for at least 3 hours in the fridge.
After resting, pat dry the pork with some paper towel and wipe off any excess salt.
“What stays on the pork stays; what falls off, falls off.” – Cured
I hung my pancetta to dry uncovered in a cool cupboard and have a small desk fan for air flow. I don’t specifically monitor temperature or humidity, but the temperature inside my house is pretty consistent. You can wrap the pork in cheese cloth if you prefer. If the area you are going to hang in is exposed to light you are probably better to wrap your pork; if the fat is exposed to light it becomes yellow and rancid.
I let it hang for about 2.5 – 3 weeks and it was ready. I have made pancetta a few times now, so generally gust go by feel when checking if it is ready. It will be much firmer to the touch. Cutting off a small piece for a taste test is usually a pretty good indication.
I was really happy with how this turned out. The ingredients that weren’t purchased were either foraged or grown at home. I found pancetta to be a good starting point when playing around with charcuterie. You can roll your pancetta before you hang it. I prefer to keep mine flat as it is easier to make and is quicker.