Are you about over bacon yet?
Neither am I. In fact, our national obsession with cured pig has only made me all the more eager to explore lesser-known –- but equally delicious -– pork parts.
And there are plenty to choose from. One of the most widely available, yet often overlooked, is pancetta, a close relative of American bacon.
So let’s start there. Bacon usually is made from the belly or side of the pig. It is cured (either dry or wet) with salt, spices and sometimes sugar, then smoked.
Pancetta is the Italian version. Typically made from the belly, the curing process is the same, but the meat usually is not smoked. During curing, it often is seasoned with black pepper, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and herbs.
While most American bacon is sliced into thin strips, slabs of pancetta usually are rolled into a log.