UK BBQ Mag Winter 2016/2017 - Page 34

Safety is paramount when curing meat. Firstly, always use the best quality of meat you can find. Not only will it taste better, but its likely to preserve and maintain its flavour for longer. It's worth the investment. This recipe for pancetta has been created using top quality pork from our favourite online butcher - www.jl-butchers.co.uk. Secondly, make sure your hands, any utensils or work surfaces used throughout the process are clean, and the environment in which you are drying and curing are appropriate (as outlined in the recipe below).

Curing salt is readily available online. Ensure that you take great care in measuring quantities of the salt when using it. Curing salt contains nitrates, so needs to be treated with care.

For this recipe, the finished pancetta needs to be cooked, it cannot be eaten raw. The drying stage for pancetta is not as crucial as for cured meats such as salamis or ham. However, the drying period detailed in the recipe (duration of a couple of weeks) will certainly help enhance the flavour of the end product. Not only this, but it will also assist in ensuring the meat lasts longer. Cut back the drying time to a few days if you want a less intense flavour.

If you are new to curing and cold smoking, our best advice is to spend some valuable time researching before taking the plunge. There are plenty of very good websites and forums online which offer sound advice for beginners. For further reference and reading, plus a selection of great recipes, we recommend a book by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn called 'Charcuterie'. It features lots of helpful and informative tips on the art of curing meats, and the recipes themselves serve as an inspiration to some of our own creations.

In terms of equipment, we like to use the Pro Q Cold Smoke Generator. An ingenious, low cost piece of kit that will last for many years if cared for properly. So easy to use, and lasts for hours and hours. We also smoke our meats, fish, nuts and cheese inside another ProQ product - our Frontier Smoker, it's capacity is ideal for cold smoking all sorts of foods.

Pancetta, also known as Italian bacon, is taken from the belly of the pig. It is dry cured with curing salt, often with the addition of a variety of herbs and spices, then rolled and hung dry for a couple of weeks. Its pungent taste is the perfect base for sauces, soups, stews and casseroles. It's often sliced thinly or chopped into cubes, then sautéed to add an impactful layer of flavour to many dishes. The addition of smoke to the pancetta gives a further dimension to the flavour profile.

Home Cured,

Cold Smoked Pancetta

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