Pulled all these goodies out yesterday. On top is the speck belly, below which is the tesa, and finally guanciale. Right next to it is the salame pepato. You can see by the color of the speck belly, that is really doesn't look all that much like bacon. And, while it IS belly, it doesn't really taste all that much like bacon(strong smokiness aside). It is super rich and porky. One distinct difference. Now, I'll be the first to admit my knives need to be sharpened. But, they're not dull. I had a devil of a time trying to slice through this. The slicer, however, made short work of it, so, no biggie. It is very complex, and deeply smoky. The juniper really came through, as it was used both in the cure and for smoking. I should mention that this is not speck as you would find in the Alto Adige, seeing as how I only dried it for 8 weeks as opposed to the traditional 22. But, I can only go on what I've had in the past. This is in the right ballpark, regarding it's deep smokiness and color. This was certainly a worthwhile venture and definitely deserves another shot. As I've written, speck(correct me if I'm wrong) seems to be a preparation as opposed to just smoked prosciutto. I've seen it as loin and belly as well. I have a nice 5lb. piece of loin in the refrigerator as we speak, so, I have a feeling that'll be next.
The tesa and guanciale are the results of the post from August 11. Yes, I did leave them in for quite awhile past what I would normally. Based on the fact that this pork was more expensive and of a much higher quality than what I usually use, I wanted to optimize it's potential. They both were cured very conservatively, and it payed off. The guanciale is superb. Sweet and delicious, with a hint of juniper and a nice bite of thyme. The tesa, which I believe is Berkshire was treated as austerely, with salt, pepper, sugar, thyme. Playing it safe sometimes pays off. This is just plain old, tasty, unsmoked bacon.
The salame vexes me somewhat. I didn't do anything different outside it's flavoring ingredients. I left it to hang for an awful long time 6 weeks. Well, a long time for such a small casing(43mm). Weird that it is still a touch soft inside, I ate some and rehung it(that was yesterday, I'm still here). That's what's so odd. It shows it drying on the scale. I believe I dried it 50% loss, yet it remained soft. Like I write above, I did nothing different. Which leads me to believe the starter may be at fault. It is certainly cured, smells fine, tastes GREAT, just a bit soft. The other 43mm as well as the 60mm are still hanging. As far as the taste, I may have told you, it's GREAT! I finally packed enough pepper for it to hot enough for my liking. The Calabrian dried chilli powder really did it's job. As a side note, I just got my beef middles in the mail yesterday, paving the way for my next N'duja attempt, should be tomorrow.