Cured Meat – Pancetta (or Tesa) Started

This morning I’ve continued my cured meat marathon, with the beginnings of more pancetta, which is, so far, my favorite of the cured meats I’ve produced.  Pancetta is bacon that is rubbed with herbs and salt, then rolled and air dried.  I’ve recently learned, from Ruhlman’s blog, that pancetta that is not rolled is named tesa.  I may suddenly determine that tesa is my favorite meat that I’ve cured, since it does have a name, and won’t require the feats of strength for rolling and tying it into rolls.  As I often say, if you want to be lazy, you need to be efficient!  We still have a lovely name, great tasting bacon, but less work!  And I can have the satisfaction of actually knowing how to do the rolling and tying, having done it before.

As I may have mentioned before, the hardest part of making bacon is getting the pork belly.  With pancetta, it’s the tying of the pork belly into rolls.  But with tesa, we’ve removed that from the list.

My Aromatic Happy Mix

I started with a whole pork belly  (approximately 10 pounds), and a doubled recipe for the basic pancetta rub from Ruhlman & Polcyn’s book.

Here’s what the rub looks like, which is not all that thrilling.  What is really thrilling is how lovely this stuff smells.  Fresh thyme, crushed juniper berries, garlic, brown sugar, pepper, and salt combine to a lovely perfume.  Can you imagine it yet?  It just makes me hungry writing about it. Making it is an exercise in measuring and mixing.  You’ve seen that before, I’m sure.

I cut the pork belly into pieces that would fit into 2 gallon zipper bags (I ended up with 2 pieces). After the cuts, I rubbed the mixture onto the meat, and put the meat int0 the zipper bags.

Pork belly, with rub, in bag

I then put the two zipper bags into the meat fridge with the maple cure bacon, to add them to the overhaul schedule for 7 days.   I’ll flip them over every day or so, to redistribute the cure.  The next step for the tesa will be its peppering and drying.  Come back next week for more tesa fun!

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