Charcuterie Challenge #2

Pancetta and Fresh Bacon

The second challenge for Charcutepalooza was issued on January 15th and I am really behind the eight ball on this one. I need to complete the curing and have an article and recipe for one of the two meats by February 15th and I have only finished the fresh bacon. The pancetta will need two weeks to cure and so will be past the deadline. To make the timing a little more difficult, we are heading to Mexico for a week and so will only have one day once we are back to do the post.

Anyhow…we bought an 11 pound pork belly and brought it home last week.

Pork Belly Skin Removed

Removed the skin and cut the belly in half and cured two ways. One a basic salt cure and the other a traditional italian cure both again from Michael Ruhlman’s book Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing.

The Pancetta Half

Both the pancetta and bacon cured in the fridge for a week until the pork belly was nice and firm and then removed.

Fresh Bacon Out of the Oven

The bacon was roasted in the oven under low heat until it reached a temperature of 150º F, removed from the oven to cool and then sliced and frozen.

Fresh Frozen Bacon

The pancetta was rolled tightly, tied and then hung in my new home curing chamber for 2 weeks at 60º F and a humidity of 60%.

Rolled Pancetta

The bacon tastes great and I am looking forward to trying it in a recipe to be determined. The pancetta looks really good but we will see in 14 days.

Pancetta Curing in the New Chamber


Duck Prosciutto – Part II

Cured at Last

The scales of justice have spoken. The duck breasts have been weighed and found ready (the 30% loss of weight means they’re ready). It took an extra four days for the duck to cure but the wait has been worth it.

We had a few issues with the process. The main issue was finding an area in our house that fit the necessary temperature range of 8-15 degrees. Our garage fit the bill until a cold spell dropped the inside temperature to -3 so we had to move the breasts inside to the basement. The other problem was the humidity. The ducks need 60% humidity to properly cure but living in a freezing desert it gets difficult to maintain that level without a proper curing setup.

In spite of these issues the duck was good. We gave it a rating of 7 out of 10 which is pretty good for a first time. The prosciutto was buttery and salty with a pleasant duck finish. This will be great on pizza with rocket or the charcutepalooza recommended prosciutto, tomato and lettuce sandwich.

We are going to try again but next time with magret duck breasts (ducks that have been raised for foie gras so they are bigger and thicker) and maybe a in a proper cure chamber if Jeanne let’s me put another fridge in the garage.

This is the finale of the first challenge for Charcutepalooza – The Year of Meat. The next challenge will be posted tomorrow.