BACON AND PANCETTA DIFFERENCES

We often make a lot of confusion about these two distinctively different ingredients.

{Bacon Image Attribution via The Spruce Eats}

Buongiorno amici:

Lately, in several restaurants I have visited, I noticed the interchangeable use of pancetta and bacon in many recipes calling for the suitable ingredient. I wish chefs would look into the originality of the recipes they intend to create and follow the classic style that never fails.

The dilemma repeats itself during my cooking classes, and one question of particular reference refers to the objective confusion in defining bacon and pancetta. So let me attempt to generate some clarity. In England and North America, Bacon is called bacon, but the matter is slightly more complex and is essential for understanding the differences in flavor between one product and another.

Let’s begin with pancetta, and this is what I do when I prepare it. First, I trim and square the belly of the pig, which I purchase from a local butcher or a supply house. After the trimming, which reserves definite attention, I move on to the salting process. Sprinkle the meat with salt (in some regions also with pepper and other spices), leave the meat to rest for a few days, and prepare it for the final result (rolled, battened, or spread). The last step involves time. I allow resting and curing for about 50 to 120 days, essential for the slabs to absorb all the good flavors I have rubbed to the flesh. Pancetta becomes an indispensable ingredient in many creative dishes, and one of preference have linguine, pancetta, and chicory, or the more classic crepes filled with tomatoes, mozzarella, and crispy pancetta.

When the pig’s belly includes the loin (not found in the pancetta), the meat becomes the familiar Anglo-Saxon bacon.

In English-speaking regions, the pieces of meat used for the preparation are different and may consist of other pig parts. Process the selected meat with the addition of salt, brown sugar, some spices of choice, which may include ground nutmeg and cloves in minuscule amounts. The salting process can occur both dry or in a flavorful brine. When purchased commercially, the bacon may have some preservatives as accepted by the USDA.

We move into the seasoning step or, as in some cases, smoking.

The un-smoked bacon is cooked before use, while the hot smoked bacon is ready to be consumed. You can use bacon to prepare sweet potatoes stuffed with bacon and brie or a nice bean soup with crispy bacon and pecorino. The recipes vary according to seasons, palate, and necessities. Hopefully, I was able to clear some confusion. What remains is that food is subjective. Therefore eat what you like.

{Smoked pancetta Image Attribution via Bottega di Calabria}

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