Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Outfit update/Pancetta tutorial, part 2: Spices

Pancetta spices
Thank-you for all your help with the outfit. I wore the skirt, sweater, and a pound or so of pancake makeup. The outfit hardly mattered, though, because I also wore a flowery apron that made me look like a 1940s British housewife. I like that look; I'm dissing myself. The whole Good Morning America taping experience was straightforward, fun and thoroughly exhausting. When I know the air date, I will post it.

Meanwhile, if any of you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I am reading at Books, Inc. in Berkeley next Tuesday, November 1, at 7 p.m. I will also be reading on November 12 at Book Passage in Corte Madera at 1 p.m. And in January, I may have a date at the incredible Omnivore Books in San Francisco, which is devoted entirely to cookbooks.

Now, pancetta.

Above is a picture of the pancetta spices used in Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn which is my meat-curing bible. But there's a lot of flexibility here, and you can omit or add spices, depending on your tastes. I've made pancetta without juniper berries and I couldn't tell the difference; I doubt I'd notice if I omitted the nutmeg. Next time I want to add red red pepper flakes. The three really essential components are salt, pink salt and sugar. And probably pepper and garlic

This is the basic spicing for 5 pounds of boneless, skinless pork belly:

6 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons pink salt
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons juniper berries
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 chunk nutmeg

Grind the whole spices; mince the garlic. Mix the spices and garlic with the sugar, salt and pink salt. (In my book I say to put everything in your spice grinder and grind, which worked for me once, but when I did it the other day almost caused the engine to blow out. So don't do that. Sorry!)

Slather this gritty mixture over your pork belly; be sure it's really well jacketed. Now, put the meat into a bowl into which it fits snugly, and cover tightly.  Place the bowl in the refrigerator, where it will sit for the next seven days. You should turn the meat around in the spices once every day or so, just to be sure it's well covered in cure.

Do you have cheesecloth? You'll need it for the next step. Part 3, coming soon.


  1. Really enjoyed your book... you've got me ordering supplies to make camembert at home. Had no idea it could really be done!

    I couldn't find a ban on goats here in Menlo Park, but I unfortunately don't have room for one anyway. Some day!

  2. I know you said "no book tour," but I strenuously object. Come east! I'm behind on my book group book but keep sneaking in pages from you & loving it. Thanks!

  3. Just saw you in Entertainment Weekly! So cool!

  4. Come to Seattle - we have lots of bookstore for readings!

  5. I had bookmarked the first of this series many years ago, and was just getting around to doing the pancetta thing. But I just noticed that there's a part 2 that hints at a part 3 (cheesecloth!), but I can't find the part 3. Can you clarify? Love the blog, BTW, plus a shared love of Baco Mercat and Roy Choi's food (if not his book).

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