One of the things I wanted to make was Pancetta. As you may know, this is an Italian form of bacon. It is a savory bacon – cured with spices, and usually rolled and hung in a cool dark place for a week or two – not smoked like normal bacon. You can also dry it flat, wrapped in cheese cloth, which is a bit faster.
I made my first one using a recipe in The Whole Hog book, and – since the temperature averages about 25 deg C at the moment – ‘hung’ it in the fridge for a week. Results were good for a first attempt, but I really needed to deal with the cool dark place thing.
Now, being an IT geek, the first thing that sprung to mind was a computer room. It’s cool, often dark, and the humidity is ok… so it seemed to make sense. On top of that, my brother has a small company, which just happened to have one! We checked the temperature and humidity (just “happened” to have a humidity meter from my very busy woodworking days), and found the computer room a little toasty at 23 degrees, and the humidity just fine at 65%. Aircon service has been planned, but the pancetta has to be dealt with!
Oh well, 23 is better than a max of 30 at home.
I made a whole pork belly of pancetta, using the charcuterie book, nice herbs and juniper berries! Cut it up, wrapped and hung it on pieces of string in a “high tech” hanging arrangement (clothes horse). Pictures will follow.
All looking good, although this went in just before my brother was away. So it got two weeks, rather than the planned one.
The results were interesting. Quite firm, and once cut, smelled lovely, and quite hammy (of the prosciutto type). Fried up a few pieces, and it tastes great, and I think it will add a wonderful flavor to an assortment of dishes.
PS: Some funky looking penicillin on the pancetta, mostly in the folds caused by the string. Maybe I should follow their advice and use proper butchers string (much thicker) and cheese cloth (much thinner than the mutton cloth I stole from my workshop).
PPS: No adverse reactions from the mould, maybe contributes nicely to gut flora:)