Saturday, September 29, 2007

Makin' Bacon

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.


Jennie/Tikka said...

Uh huh, I'll be expecting a full spread sheet on your food costs, BdG. Please include cost per portion in both ounces and grams, if you please. Include your trim loss and edible portion figures please. If you used a pinch or dash of anything - I want the breakdown. Remember, that's all carried out to the fourth decimal. Get that on my desk in 2 hours, stat.

Likewise, if you could include how many covers you're "selling" of the Pancetta dish at home versus other dishes on the menu, that'd be appreciated.

Bud I didn't learn nuuthin' in culinary skoool.

The Foodist said...

Very nice... Ill expect a slice sent to me in 7 days!

GG Mora said...

Hmmm...I'll be watching closely. I just got 10 lbs. of pork belly, because I'm jonesing to make some slow-braised. But 10 lbs.? No. Pancetta might be a nice way to dispense with a portion of the belly.

fiat lux said...

I've been thinking about adding a mortar & pestle to the kitchen toolset on and off for some time now -- Jamie Oliver sure did love giving things "a bash" in his on his TV shows.

Realistically, though, it's one of those "nice to have but not used very often" pieces that are hard to justify when you live in an apartment and space is limited.

Bob del Grosso said...

Fiat Lux
I was given my mortar and pestle by Anna (nee Boggeri) Monguzzia a wonderful lady I met in the Ticino in 1981. If I'd come across it any other way, I probably would not find it so useful. Anna is one of those people who know how to help you when you don't even know that you need help.

You can live without a mortar and pestle (believe it) but if someone like Anna gives you one, you will not be able to live without it.

Charlotte said...

Hey -- I'm making Ruhlman's pancetta too! I had to use commercial pork though -- but we're on just about the same schedule. I'll be relying on you for rolling and tying technique (you're the cooking school guy after all).

Bob del Grosso said...

Charlotte Ami

The Foodist said...

oh and by the way... 5 lbs of TCM?! lol thats a whole lotta cured meat!