Saturday, September 29, 2007
Okay, it's on. I've been nattering for weeks about making pancetta and finally I'm doing it. Last night I broke out the slab of pork belly given to me by Trent Hendricks and mixed up a cure from Ruhlmans' famous Charcuterie book.
Think it was easy? Not. Ruhlman's recipe was written for 5lbs of pork belly and the piece I have is only 2.5 pounds. So I had to divide everything by 2. So, like 2 tablespoons of juniper berries had to be 1, and four cloves of garlic came down to 2. What a headache, no wonder they this kind of stuff 'Slow Food.'
Seriously now, the recipe is a no-brainer. The bacon gets cured over 7 days (no it isn't sick, it's dead!) with a dry rub of juniper, kosher salt, pink salt (Instacure #1), nutmeg, sugar and a few other things. It's funny, you can tell the book is written by someone who has spent a lot of time in professional kitchens because it suggests that you crush the juniper berries with the bottom of a saute pan. I'll bet that as I write this there are thousands of professional cooks all over the United States getting ready for Saturday night dinner service and crushing black pepper or cloves with the bottom of a pot.
The technique works great, of course it does, and it's good advice since most people are not likely to have something like my trusty old Roman designed mortar and pestle. But I don't care how brilliantly you use the bottom of a saute pan as a cudgel, some of whatever it is you are trying to crush always skitters out from under and shoots across the room. The mortar and pestle is much neater and you can't beat it for beauty and simplicity of design.