pancetta

Candied Pancetta and Dried White Figs

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I love figs, and I love pancetta even more, so why not candy them together?  With the last batch of pancetta coming out of the aging box, I was ready to play and experiment!

Candied Pancetta and White Figs

8oz  Pancetta

8ea  Dried White Sierra Figs

1.5ea  Shallot

1T  Palm Sugar

1/4C  Sherry Wine

1/4C  Sherry Vinegar

  • Begin by small dicing the pancetta, and slicing the figs into disc.

Sliced dried white figs.

  • Place the pancetta in a pot over low heat and render.
  • Brunoise the shallot and once the pancetta begins to color, add it to the pan.
  • Once the shallot has started to brown and the pancetta is crispy turn the heat to low.

  • Add the figs and palm sugar, stir until the sugar has dissolved

Palm sugar, similar color to brown sugar but wetter and it has a slight fruit and molasses flavor.

Sugar has dissolved

  • Add the sherry wine and reduce by half
  • Add the sherry vinegar and cook until it is at the desired acidity.

This has become one of my favorite condiments that can be used in a lot of dishes from pork to duck.  Most recently I paired it with a foie gras torchon.

Pancetta

Pancetta is one of my favorite cured muscles, mostly because it is very similar to bacon. Pancetta is made with heavy, earthy spices such as juniper and black pepper, but is not limited to using only those. My favorite attribute to a good pancetta is its fermented flavor. It isn’t strong in a good quality pancetta but it adds a great flavor. The process can take up to 3 months with curing and air drying. I found it difficult in the beginning to roll the pancetta tight enough to remove the air so my first few batches were a flat Venetian style pancetta. It is very important that when you do a rolled pancetta, that you roll it tight and tie it properly or the meat will rot from the inside out.

This recipe comes from the book Ruhlman, Michael and Polcyn, Brian. Charcuterie, which I use as a reference to curing all meats.

Pancetta

4ea Garlic Cloves

2t Pink Salt

2oz Kosher Salt

2T Dark Brown Sugar

4T Coarse Black Pepper

2T Crushed Juniper Berries

4ea Bay Leaves

1t Nutmeg

4sprigs Thyme

5# Pork Belly

  • Combine your sugar, salt, and pink salt
  • Combine all of your spices (only half of the black pepper) and grind them in a blender
  • I usually buy skin on pork belly, if this is what you have then remove it.

Start by shaving the skin up from one corner then cut an X in it. This will create a spot to put your finger so you can pull the skin taught as you cut it off.

Shave the skin off trying not to remove too much meat.

  • Mix the spices with the curing salt mix and liberally apply to the pork belly
  • Wrap the pork tightly with plastic and place it into a pan.
  • Place another pan on top of the pork and place weights on that. Cure in the fridge for 7 days, flipping the pork over everyday.
  • After your 7 days are up, remove the pork from the plastic and rinse thoroughly. Pat the pork dry with paper towels and let sit in a drafty area for 30 minutes to an hour to allow the pork to get slightly tacky and to make it easier to roll.
  • Once it has warmed up, lay the pork out like a sideways book, it should be longer vertically. Begin rolling by grabbing the portion of the pork that is furthest from you. As you roll, press on the pork to ensure it is very tight.
  • Once rolled, you will need to tie the pork very tightly to ensure that there is no room for air in the middle. You can read about tying roast and pancetta here. Always start the tying from the middle and work your way out to force any air or gaps outwards.
  • Once tied, wrap the pork with a double layer of cheesecloth and tie both ends leaving a loop in one to hang it from.

  • The great thing about pancetta is that you don’t need a larder to cure this. The ideal temperature for “aging” the pancetta is 50°F-55°F with about 60% humidity. A normal fridge will work but it may take a little longer to dry. This drying process takes anywhere from two weeks to three months, but you will know when it is done because it will be firmer than when you put it in the fridge.

This is the excel spread sheet that I made to calculate the loss of moisture in the meat over 2.5 months. After weighing the product each week I will be able to see how much liquid it lost in a weeks time. The 1 and 2 are for each of the samples.

Pancetta Sofrito

In Spanish cuisine this wonderfully rich and aromatic condiment is used as a base for many sauces. The process that I used takes about three hours so make sure that you have a little time on your hands, it is well worth it.  In the Italian cuisine this base is later used for a ragu, all you do is add meat.

Pancetta Sofrito
AN     Olive oil
6.75C White onions
9oz     Pancetta
2.5#    Diced tomatoes (chopped fine)

Brunoise the white onions and the pancetta. You can buy canned tomatoes and strain them or you can peel and seed Roma tomatoes. Either way, chop the tomatoes until they are in small pieces.
Add the white onions to a large pot and add olive oil to come 3/4 of the way up the onions.
Turn your heat on medium and wait for the onions to begin to sizzle, when you see small bubbles turn the heat to low. You want to maintain a very low heat while they cook. At this point add the pancetta. This cooking process will take about 90 minutes.

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Continue to cook the onions and pancetta until they are the color of raisins (below).

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At this point, add the diced tomatoes and continue to cook for an additional 90 minutes or until the oil has separated out and it looks like you are lightly frying the mixture.
Season and enjoy. I eat this by the spoonful but you can add other meats to it to make a ragu or add beans to make a protein rich side or dinner.

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