Tuesday, February 15, 2011

CharcutePalooza: Pancetta...Conquered

   It appears that all of my pancetta rolling frustrations paid off in the end. Today I cut my pancetta down from its' gallows and further inspected it. No mold, slightly dry on the outside but still pliable, smelled tasty. All good signs. After freeing it from its' (bad) truss, I cut it straight through the middle. Beautiful! My crazed rolling attempts did pay off.

Finished Pancetta
swirly pork

   But one cannot judge a meat on good looks alone, I needed to know how it tasted. After having consumed a good deal of bacon on its' own, I figured I should incorporate this cured meat into some sort of recipe. After picking up a gorgeous bunch of kale on impulse and taking inventory of ingredients on hand, a lovely pasta dish seemed only right. Never mind it was for breakfast. Pancetta is pretty much bacon anyway.
   I used a whole wheat spaghetti for its' nutty flavor, but any pasta will do. There really isn't any sauce, allowing the pancetta to shine through instead. The earthy bitterness of both cauliflower and kale compliment the pancetta, while sweet squash contrasts it. You could just as easily use bright ingredients like fresh peas, artichokes, or asparagus for a springtime twist.

Roasted Vegetables


Roasted Cauliflower, Buttercup Squash, & Kale Spaghetti with Pancetta


1/2 lb. whole wheat spaghetti
1 small cauliflower head, divided into florets
1 buttercup squash, peeled and chopped
3 1/2 inch thick slices pancetta, cubed
1/2 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch kale, rough chopped
1/4 c chicken or beef stock
salt & pepper

Boil spaghetti in salted water until "al dente". Drain and toss with olive oil.
Roast cauliflower and squash in a 400 degree oven until crispy and browned (about 30 minutes).
Saute pancetta in large pan until also crispy and browned (About 8 minutes). Remove and drain on paper towels.
Add onions to pan and cook until tender (4 minutes). Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add kale and toss. Add stock and cover. Cook for 6 minutes. Remove from heat.
Toss vegetables with pasta, season with salt and pepper.
Top with pancetta.


   I think the greatest lesson I am learning from all of these meaty DIY projects thus far is how special food traditions really are. It is so easy to order meat from the deli (well, other than the waiting part) and not give another thought to it. But when you take the time and effort to cure a piece of pork and watch it transform into something as identifiable and truly iconic as bacon, it really makes you stand back and appreciate the skill those before us had to not only survive on what they made, but make it so delicious too. I feel humbled by the craft I am learning.


  1. Hello Your Uncle Phil here,

    It’s great to see you taking on these challenges. You would have loved to meet Nina’s father and the knowledge he could impart concerning all things cured. For him in Italy it was a matter of daily life to harvest food from the earth and preserve it in the appropriate manner. I’ll send you some picture I took of his room where he cured everything from sausages to hams. I think everyone would be surprised to know that you don’t need a dedicated smoke house. I do remember as a child going into my grandparents and seeing the meats hanging in their smokehouse. Something I was totally unfamiliar with. Keep up the good work!


  2. Thanks! I am having SO much fun. I would looove to see some photos. Right now I am trying to track down a refrigerator to use as my "curing chamber", until I have a room of my own!