Mudcat Café message #4009051 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #165215   Message #4009051
Posted By: Steve Shaw
16-Sep-19 - 05:18 AM
Thread Name: BS: Recipes - what are we eating?
Subject: RE: BS: Recipes - what are we eating?
There's nothing weird about pancetta. It's the Italian take on streaky bacon, and many an hotel restaurant in Italy will serve it fried for breakfast. Delicious. You can occasionally buy it in the piece, but generally it's sold either as a small dice (cubetti) or as very thin slices, which look just like a fine version of streaky bacon. Pancetta is cured pork belly (as is streaky bacon) with no rind. Drape a slice or two over your baked chicken pieces for the last ten minutes for a lovely salty crunch. I can't imagine a meaty ragu, or a meaty risotto, that doesn't start with some sautéed pancetta that adds flavour depth as well as some lovely rich fat to fry your onions. I generally use the unsmoked version. Like most cured meats, it carries that baggage of nitrites/nitrates that worry some people. Not me. Streaky bacon is a good substitute though it may need a bit more cooking.

For me, pork belly is the tastiest part of the pig with the possible exception of guanciale (cured pig's cheek). You can use pancetta cubes instead of guanciale in carbonara, though the latter is more traditional (and even more delicious). I've even used sliced pancetta when the shops are closed and I've felt the urgent need for carbonara. It works. If you put cream in your carbonara, though, I may never speak to you again...