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YOLO COUNTY NEWS
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From the ground up: Make your own pancetta

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February 3, 2011 | Leave Comment

The year 2011 is shaping up to be the year of charcuterie, or cured meats. Home or house-style food preservation is going to a whole new level as bloggers, butchers, restaurateurs, homemakers, farmers, office workers and others are curing meat.
Georgeanne and I have decided to enter the national craze. Inspired by the book “Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing,” food bloggers Cathy Barrow and Kim Foster have launched a year long challenge called Charcutepalooza. Each month participants will participate in the challenge, making 12 different cured meats. (Find the details of Charcutepalooza at http://www.MrsWheelbarrow.com.) We’re participating.
We both have been home food preservationists for over 35 years each. We enjoy year-round the process of taking the harvest and putting it into special fruit jams, tomato sauces, pickled fruits and vegetables, red wine vinegar, fruit conserves and even alcoholic drinks such as quince digestif (for an after dinner drink).
Georgeanne and her husband Jim have made charcuterie at their farmhouse outside of Winters, such as pancetta, prosciutto, pâtés and terrines. She learned the art and craft of charcuterie from friends and neighbors in France long ago. Several weeks ago, I decided it was my turn. I called Davis resident, friend and pancetta maker, Jamie Buffington. Over the past two weeks, using local pig farmer John Bledsoe’s pork bellies, Jamie, Joy Patterson and I prepared pancetta.
The first step in preparing the pancetta, after securing the pork belly, takes about three hours. You are cutting the skin off the pork belly — the same place bacon comes from. Evening the 10-by-8 inch slab of fat and meat, making and spreading the cure on it, and putting it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator with a heavy book on it took four hours. The scraps from the evening out process are in our freezers to make pork sausage later. We turned the package each day for a week.
Last Sunday we met for two hours. The second step in preparing the pancetta is washing off the cure, drying the slab, rubbing it with fresh cracked pepper, rolling the slab very tightly and tying it off with a series of macramé style moves with cotton butcher’s twine. Learning to tie a butcher’s knot was the hardest part of the whole process. Our pancetta rolls are now hanging high and dry in our refrigerators.
After about three weeks, when the meat is dried, firm, and hard on the outside, we’ll remove the 10-inch rolls of pancetta from their perch in our refrigerators, cut them into thirds, and freeze two portions until we are ready to use them.
Jamie was gracious enough to cook up some slices of her home made pancetta so I, a novice, could taste it. Joy had made pancetta once before and knew the flavor. As we probed for words to describe the profusion of flavors, none of us could find a single word other than complex. No single ingredient from the cure stands out, like bay leaf, rosemary, juniper berries, garlic, sage or coriander seed. And this is precisely what adding home-cured pancetta to your cooking will do; create a layer of flavors for your dish, like a classic perfect dish for pancetta, Spaghetti alla carbonara (spaghetti with pancetta and eggs.)
Jamie taught herself how to make pancetta by reading books, studying websites, and just doing it several times, a step for which there is no substitute. She recommended two web sources to Joy and me, which describe pancetta-making and are listed in the information box at right. We suggest you consult both to make your pancetta.
Sources for pork belly and twine also are provided in the information box, as well as some reference books Jamie, Georgeanne and I like.
If you decide you like the process, think about becoming a part of Charcutepalooza. February’s challenge is salt cure: bacon, pancetta or guanciale. Like Nugget store director Dave Welch at Oak Tree Plaza, who just made his first pancetta, you’ll find out just how easy and fun making your own can be.
— Ann Evans and Georgeanne Brennan have a food and marketing consulting firm, Evans & Brennan, LLC, specializing in farm fresh food in school lunch. They co-lead Slow Food Yolo. Reach Georgeanne at gbrennan@yolo.com and Ann at annmevans@aol.com.
The recipe
Roasted Butternut Squash with Pancetta and Sage
Pancetta will go well with just about any vegetables. Here butternut squash is used in an easy-to-make, quick recipe
developed by Jamie Buffington for the winter season. The flavors are intensified with the roasting of homemade pancetta, which is easily substituted for store- bought pancetta, sold by all of the stores in the information box that also will sell pork bellies to make your own.
The ingredients:
One large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
1⁄4 cup California extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, or to taste
Sea salt (to taste)
Black pepper, freshly crushed with mortar and pestle (to taste)
1 stem of green garlic, or 2-3 cloves of garlic
5 fresh sage leaves, chopped (can substitute fresh thyme sprigs)
1⁄4 pound pancetta, diced
Putting it together:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. Place in a roasting pan or glass dish such that all the squash is touching the bottom of the pan. Roast for 25-30 minutes, or until squash is easy to pierce with a fork. Serves 8-10 as a side dish.
Pancetta pointers
- For step-by-step instructions on the process, complete with videos, and a recipe for the pancetta cure, visit http://chow.com/food-news/53527/make-your-own-pancetta
- For information on how to tie a butcher’s knot, and to create a hand-made almost macramé-style netting with cooking string to keep the rolled pancetta tight and together while it is hanging, visit http://theingredientstore.com/amescompany/knotway.html
Where to get pork belly in Yolo County and cotton butcher’s twine:
- Bledsoe & Son — special order only. Available through the Davis Farmers Market (Saturday). E-mail order ahead to John Bledsoe  at jrbledsoe@sbcglobal.net. Pork sourced from John Bledsoe’s ranch in Yolo County.
- Nugget Markets — (Oak Tree Plaza, Davis; other locations in Woodland and West Sacramento may be able to do so.) Special order only; available within several days. Call the meat department at (530) 750-3800.
- Davis Food Co-op — Special order only, may take up to two weeks. Pork sourced from Niman Ranch. Must buy complete belly (two sides). Call meat department at (530) 758-2667.
- Lorenzo’s Town and Country Market, Winters — Special order only, available within several days. Call meat department at (530) 795-3214.
- For cotton butcher’s twine, Davis Ace Hardware, 240 G St., has several sizes, including the cone or spool, in the housewares department.
Reference books on curing and cured meats:
- “Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing,” by Michael Ruhlman and  Brian Polcyn, 2005, W.W. Norton
and Company
- “Complete Book of Pork,” by Bruce Aidells, 2004, Harper Collins Publishers
- “Primal Cuts: Cooking with America’s Best Butchers,” by Marissa Guggiana, 2010, Random House
- “Salumi: Savory Recipes and Serving Ideas for Salame, Proscuitto, and More,” by John Piccetti and François Vecchio with Joyce Goldstein, 2008, Chronicle Books

From the ground up: Make your own pancettaBy Ann Evans and Georgeanne BrennanSpecial to The EnterpriseThe year 2011 is shaping up to be the year of charcuterie, or cured meats. Home or house-style food preservation is going to a whole new level as bloggers, butchers, restaurateurs, homemakers, farmers, office workers and others are curing meat.  Georgeanne and I have decided to enter the national craze. Inspired by the book “Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing,” food bloggers Cathy Barrow and Kim Foster have launched a year long challenge called Charcutepalooza. Each month participants will participate in the challenge, making 12 different cured meats. (Find the details of Charcutepalooza at http://www.MrsWheelbarrow.com.) We’re participating. We both have been home food preservationists for over 35 years each. We enjoy year-round the process of taking the harvest and putting it into special fruit jams, tomato sauces, pickled fruits and vegetables, red wine vinegar, fruit conserves and even alcoholic drinks such as quince digestif (for an after dinner drink).  Georgeanne and her husband Jim have made charcuterie at their farmhouse outside of Winters, such as pancetta, prosciutto, pâtés and terrines. She learned the art and craft of charcuterie from friends and neighbors in France long ago. Several weeks ago, I decided it was my turn. I called Davis resident, friend and pancetta maker, Jamie Buffington. Over the past two weeks, using local pig farmer John Bledsoe’s pork bellies, Jamie, Joy Patterson and I prepared pancetta. The first step in preparing the pancetta, after securing the pork belly, takes about three hours. You are cutting the skin off the pork belly — the same place bacon comes from. Evening the 10-by-8 inch slab of fat and meat, making and spreading the cure on it, and putting it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator with a heavy book on it took four hours. The scraps from the evening out process are in our freezers to make pork sausage later. We turned the package each day for a week. Last Sunday we met for two hours. The second step in preparing the pancetta is washing off the cure, drying the slab, rubbing it with fresh cracked pepper, rolling the slab very tightly and tying it off with a series of macramé style moves with cotton butcher’s twine. Learning to tie a butcher’s knot was the hardest part of the whole process. Our pancetta rolls are now hanging high and dry in our refrigerators. After about three weeks, when the meat is dried, firm, and hard on the outside, we’ll remove the 10-inch rolls of pancetta from their perch in our refrigerators, cut them into thirds, and freeze two portions until we are ready to use them.  Jamie was gracious enough to cook up some slices of her home made pancetta so I, a novice, could taste it. Joy had made pancetta once before and knew the flavor. As we probed for words to describe the profusion of flavors, none of us could find a single word other than complex. No single ingredient from the cure stands out, like bay leaf, rosemary, juniper berries, garlic, sage or coriander seed. And this is precisely what adding home-cured pancetta to your cooking will do; create a layer of flavors for your dish, like a classic perfect dish for pancetta, Spaghetti alla carbonara (spaghetti with pancetta and eggs.)   Jamie taught herself how to make pancetta by reading books, studying websites, and just doing it several times, a step for which there is no substitute. She recommended two web sources to Joy and me, which describe pancetta-making and are listed in the information box at right. We suggest you consult both to make your pancetta. Sources for pork belly and twine also are provided in the information box, as well as some reference books Jamie, Georgeanne and I like.If you decide you like the process, think about becoming a part of Charcutepalooza. February’s challenge is salt cure: bacon, pancetta or guanciale. Like Nugget store director Dave Welch at Oak Tree Plaza, who just made his first pancetta, you’ll find out just how easy and fun making your own can be.  — Ann Evans and Georgeanne Brennan have a food and marketing consulting firm, Evans & Brennan, LLC, specializing in farm fresh food in school lunch. They co-lead Slow Food Yolo. Reach Georgeanne at gbrennan@yolo.com and Ann at annmevans@aol.com.The recipeRoasted Butternut Squash with Pancetta and SagePancetta will go well with just about any vegetables. Here butternut squash is used in an easy-to-make, quick recipe developed by Jamie Buffington for the winter season. The flavors are intensified with the roasting of homemade pancetta, which is easily substituted for store- bought pancetta, sold by all of the stores in the information box that also will sell pork bellies to make your own. The ingredients:One large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed1⁄4 cup California extra-virgin olive oil4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, or to tasteSea salt (to taste)Black pepper, freshly crushed with mortar and pestle (to taste)1 stem of green garlic, or 2-3 cloves of garlic5 fresh sage leaves, chopped (can substitute fresh thyme sprigs)1⁄4 pound pancetta, diced Putting it together:Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. Place in a roasting pan or glass dish such that all the squash is touching the bottom of the pan. Roast for 25-30 minutes, or until squash is easy to pierce with a fork. Serves 8-10 as a side dish. Pancetta pointers- For step-by-step instructions on the process, complete with videos, and a recipe for the pancetta cure, visit http://chow.com/food-news/53527/make-your-own-pancetta- For information on how to tie a butcher’s knot, and to create a hand-made almost macramé-style netting with cooking string to keep the rolled pancetta tight and together while it is hanging, visit http://theingredientstore.com/amescompany/knotway.html Where to get pork belly in Yolo County and cotton butcher’s twine:- Bledsoe & Son — special order only. Available through the Davis Farmers Market (Saturday). E-mail order ahead to John Bledsoe  at jrbledsoe@sbcglobal.net. Pork sourced from John Bledsoe’s ranch in Yolo County.- Nugget Markets — (Oak Tree Plaza, Davis; other locations in Woodland and West Sacramento may be able to do so.) Special order only; available within several days. Call the meat department at (530) 750-3800.- Davis Food Co-op — Special order only, may take up to two weeks. Pork sourced from Niman Ranch. Must buy complete belly (two sides). Call meat department at (530) 758-2667.- Lorenzo’s Town and Country Market, Winters — Special order only, available within several days. Call meat department at (530) 795-3214.- For cotton butcher’s twine, Davis Ace Hardware, 240 G St., has several sizes, including the cone or spool, in the housewares department.Reference books on curing and cured meats:- “Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing,” by Michael Ruhlman and  Brian Polcyn, 2005, W.W. Norton and Company- “Complete Book of Pork,” by Bruce Aidells, 2004, Harper Collins Publishers- “Primal Cuts: Cooking with America’s Best Butchers,” by Marissa Guggiana, 2010, Random House- “Salumi: Savory Recipes and Serving Ideas for Salame, Proscuitto, and More,” by John Piccetti and François Vecchio with Joyce Goldstein, 2008, Chronicle Books

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