Pancetta is the cured belly of the pig and could be considered the Italian bacon. Either left to cure as a straight piece or rolled, pancetta is very versatile in an array of cooking, where it is usually diced up into lardons or thinly sliced to be served on its own. Here, I’ve done a version reminiscent of Italy’s central regions, with sweet spice and sage as well as rosemary.
- 10 sage leaves
- 1 small rosemary sprig
- 1 whole nutmeg
- 10 black peppercorns
- 200 g salt
- 2 kg pork belly (skin removed)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Makes 1.5 kg piece
Curing time 4 weeks
Using a mortar and pestle, pound the sage, rosemary leaves, nutmeg and peppercorns well until a coarse paste is formed. Add 1 tsp of the salt if need be to get it to grind up well. Stir half this herb mixture well into the remaining salt. Cover and store remaining herb mix in the fridge.
Coat the pork belly well in this mixture, and leave in a non-reactive container for 3 days in the fridge. Remove from the fridge, rinse off the curing salt, pat dry and spread with the remaining herb and herb mixture, massaging it well so it goes into the whole open side of the meat. Roll the belly up tightly securing with butcher’s twine every few centimetres or so.
Leave to hang in a cool, airy but not breezy place (12°C is ideal) for about 4 weeks to 6 weeks, if possible.