Monday, November 8, 2010

Mosefund Pancetta tasting



These are the other 3 quarters of the whole side of pig I acquired from Michael from Mosefund Farm back in August. The other quarter became that lovely slab of bacon about which I posted on August 23rd. From top to bottom are Pancetta tesa, Pancetta Calabrese and Pancetta affumicata(bauchspeck or speck belly). The Pancetta tesa on top was cured with juniper, thyme and bay. I didn't do anything out of the ordinary with it. Due to it's size, I left in to cure for about 12 days. It was removed, rinsed and hung to dry. The Pancetta Calabrese was cured with fennel seeds and hot pepper powder. What I did differently with this was in the rinsing process. This is a DOP item, so all the literature about it points to the fact that it is cured simply with peperoncino powder. I used a little Norcino license and added some fennel seeds. After the curing process, it was rinsed with water and red wine vinegar. It is then recovered with peperoncino powder. It is then dried for a minimum of 30 days. The pancetta affumicata was cured with juniper, thyme, bay and caraway seeds. Why the caraway? I was shooting for flavors typical of the Alto Adige, South Tyrol, in particular, and even more specifically Val Gardena. My wife visited Ortisei in the Val Gardena last year. She returned with a small cookbook from the area. Caraway was by far the most pervasive aromatic used in the cuisine. From bread to meat, it is used in just about everything. Knowing that I was to visit this very place a month after I made it, I wanted to return and try my own pancetta affumicata to see how it measured up. See my previous post for the whole dissertation on the speck vs. pancetta affumicata thing. I cured this for the same amount of time as the others, 12 days. After the curing process, I left this out at room temperature for 2 hours to develop a nice pellicle prior to cold smoking. This thing got about 25 hours of cold smoke on it over the course of 5 days. I used a mixture of apple and cherry woods. In the Dolomites they use juniper wood for the cold smoking, which I've been in the process of tracking down for months to no avail. The cold smoke was applied using a nifty little gadget called the pro-q cold smoke generator. It is an inexpensive, invaluable tool made in the UK for those without room for a gigantic Bradley smoker or something of that ilk. First time I used it, I forgot to remove the candle and came out to find the thing on fire, so, keep that in mind.......remove the candle! All three of these items were left to dry for about 60 days. As I had written previously in the bacon post, these were all cured in vacu-sealed bags, with inconclusive results, other than no leaks and no headaches from wifey giving me the business about said leaks. With regard to taste on these, this meat makes you look like a superstar. All you really have to do is not screw it up. It's very forgiving as you can make a ton of mistakes and will STILL taste good. The Calabrese has a terrific heat, of which I'm a huge fan. The affumicata is delightfully smoky, but, not overwhelmingly so, with hints of caraway and bay. I think I came pretty close on taste judging against what I ate while in the Dolomites. The smoke on theirs is so much more aromatic, I really need to find that juniper wood. The tesa is delicious as well, I use it as my "working" pancetta, for use in sautes, soups, etc. After working with this belly, I don't think I would go back to curing belly found in Asian or Latin markets, I feel like that would just be pissing in the wind. If you have the opportunity to use this meat, I recommend you give it a go.

12 comments:

  1. This is a really great post. I will mention it on my blog.

    I totally agree: after you start eating (or curing & eating Mangalitsa), eating or even worse, curing & eating, other pork seems like such a pointless waste of time - because it always comes out lousy in comparison.

    About juniper smoke: The Wiesners, the Austrians who sold me my pigs, told me that you can take the juniper berries and put them in with your other smoke materials (e.g. applewood or cherry). The product will wind up with a juniper flavor.

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  2. The juniper berries were my plan for now. Going to grind them up as fine as possible and add them to my sawdust. Started 2 leg speck projects this week. Would love to get a mangalitsa leg once I get the hang of it.

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  3. Really nice work here, Scott.

    Inspires me to do some experimenting when making this Autumn's batch of pancetta.

    Grazie!

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  4. Prego, Signore Polpetta! Go nuts with the pancetta, I have about 20 different formulas I've used if you're looking for ideas.

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  5. 20 years ago I thought someone should go to Italyand properly learn the Italian way of curing pork and here you have done it. I am tasting it. Loving the juniper berries - which I never think are Italian but are perfect.

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  6. Thanks, Claudia. I asked a bunch of questions and bought several cookbooks while I was there, I really wanted to get it right. I hear ya on the juniper, but, it is used frequently in the curing of whole muscles.

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  7. For my pancetta, I switched from regular belly to berkshire, that I've been getting from Ottomanelli's, and noticed a big difference. I can only imaging what the switch to mangalista would be like.

    I like to use spicing in my smoke mix (allspice berries for jerk, cinnamon sticks and star anise pods for asian), and itsinteresting howmuch flavor they are capable of imparting.

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  8. Jeff, I have several cold smoking projects both ongoing and upcoming, including speck. Currently I am cold smoking a lonzino, I used some ground up some juniper berries and it really had an impact.

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  9. I swear star anise tastes the same either applied directly or burned first and applied as smoke. Its aromatic flavor compounds seem pretty durable.

    I have access to a large stand of fruiting juniper, however I understand certain varieties are poisonous, so I haven't bothered to pick them. I hadn't thought of drying them for smoke. I wonder if they can be safely burned?

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  10. Jeff, I have hot smoked with juniper berries as well with positive results.

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  11. I've been looking into the Pro Q cold smoker and was wondering where you found the cherry and apple wood dust? Thanks!

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  12. Smokinlicious.............but, the cherry is too coarse to use on it's own, I had to mix the 2 together.

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