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Mark's Delicious Pancetta Recipe



Pancetta is loosely based on a Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall one…

Get some decent pork belly. Best to get either one large piece of belly side and cut it into 3 pieces about 800g each, or get three individual bits. M&S pork belly (covered in black pepper) will do at a pinch - though best to scrape off some of the black pepper with the back of a knife before putting on the cure mix.

Make the cure mix. I use about 60/40 coarse salt to light brown sugar mix. Add in some crushed black pepper - couple of tablespoons of peppercorns, some chopped bay leaves, some crushed juniper berries if you like them. Also, if you want a nice cosmetic pink colour, add a little sodium nitrite. Not always easy to get as it’s an ingredient for explosive too! I get mine from the guy who smokes my salmon, you can get it online though - just don’t try to order any fertiliser or detonators at the same time…You will only need a couple of tablespoons of it for the mix size below.

Make more of the cure mix than you need. It keeps fine. Probably about 500g coarse salt to 400g sugar is about right. It took me several goes to get it the way I want, not too salty. If it’s too salty, a quick rinse and dry at the end of the process works.

You need a decent sized plastic tupperware box or similar, that the pieces of pork will fit in quite neatly - you stack them. Rub the mix well into each piece of pork belly all over then stack them, sprinkling a bit more mix on top of each one as you do so. You should have a fair amount of mix left. Put the lid on the box then put in fridge or somewhere cool - garage or shed will be fine at this time of year. After a day, drain off the fluid in the box, then rub the pieces again, with a little more mix, and rotate them in the stack. Do this every day - don’t worry if you forget one! - for at least 4 days, preferably 5. You can do it for up to 8 but it will be a bit saltier. At the end, give each piece a very quick rinse under a cold tap, though you want to keep all the nice aromatic pepper, juniper and bay on them, then pat dry with some kitchen towel. I stick them back in the box for a day or so wrapped in kitchen towel just to dry a little further. Wrap it in greaseproof paper to store in fridge, or wrap in foil and freeze if not using immediately.

Keeps at least 2 weeks in fridge, but in reality a fair bit longer. Slice thinly or dice as required.

If you have a @DrEm cold smoker or similar, it could be smoked too.

You could also add different herbs etc to the cure mix. Fennel seeds maybe or a little chopped rosemary.

I also second @laura’s idea of cranberry sauce - we stick a few jars of that in the hampers too.

Recipes for wine lovers - WIKI
Christmas hamper wine recommendations?

Do you freeze before curing?


No - not as a rule, only if I have pork in the freezer that I might want to use.


You can also use lamb belly too which is very different of course in flavour. I once kept a cured, smoked lamb belly in an outdoor fridge for two years (forgotten :roll_eyes:) and decided to unwrap it from its muslin. I did try it, wondering about severe medical consequences, but survived and it was like a lamb flavoured iberico ham.
Bresaola is also quite straight forward to do (with a red wine brine) though needs hanging in an airy place (like my cycle/woodshed) for a few months


I have done bresaola too…needs a bit of advance planning for Christmas.

Not sure even I would have been brave enough to try that lamb flank after 2 years…


Wow thanks for this
What a treasure trove of ideas here :heart:


The Wellbeck Artisan School of Food provide a number of courses in how to do butchery and meat curing. I would recommend “Pig in a day” which had practical classes in making pancetta, Parma ham, bacon, sausages as well as butchery. Once you understand the principles, the rest becomes easy. They also do lots of bakery and bread making.
A Christmas present?
Looks like they’ve split the curing and butchery now.