Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pancetta, bacon, prosciutto oh my! Delicious.

In my last post, I had a comment asking what pancetta is. Instead of replying directly, I thought I would post an answer along with some other meats that are similar. Hopefully this will demystify what they are, what they can used in and how they taste.

Pancetta: Pronounced "panchetta". Pancetta is like bacon. It's heavily seasoned and cured, but not smoked. It tastes like bacon, but has a bit of a milder taste. If you buy it prepackaged (it's by the bacon or fancy cheeses), it is usually very thinly sliced. If you buy it from the deli or butcher and have them slice it for you, you can get it thicker. Per pound, it is a few dollars more expensive than bacon. Pancetta can be used in place of bacon. Put it on salad or pizza. Add it to scrambled eggs. Sprinkle some on top of soup or baked potatoes.

Bacon: Bacon is cured in salt, like pancetta, and then smoked. This is where you hear varieties like applewood smoked or hardwood smoked bacon. If there is anything I could tell you about bacon, it would be to buy if from the butcher. The bacon behind the counter is better quality and thicker sliced. When it goes on sale, load up and freeze it in portions of 5 or 6. 5 or 6 is usually the amount called for in recipes and just enough for breakfast. To defrost it, put it in the water. It will defrost quickly because fat defrosts quickly and joyfully, bacon is mostly fat. Anyways, I beg of you to buy if from the butcher. It is about the same price as the thinner, prepackaged stuff.

Prosciutto: Pronounced "proshooto". Prosciutto is ham that has been cured and dried. First it is salted and left for a few months. Then it's washed and hung to dry out. Prosciutto can be eaten raw or cooked. It's hard to cook with it because it is hard to make sure it gets to the pan when you can just eat it. A delicious combination is cantaloupe or honeydew chunks wrapped in prosciutto. My husband has had this on his catering menu for a few years and it has always been popular.

Below are a few recipes with these delicious, flavorful meats. Take your pick.

Grilled Pancetta-wrapped Asparagus
Pasta with Butternut Squash, Caramelized Onions and Pancetta
Pasta with Prosciutto and Peas
Candied Bacon
Jon's Bacon Burger
Garden Veggie Pizza with Bacon


Shayne said...

LOL about what you said about the Cherimoya. trust me I agree 100%

on the other hand your pasta with squash onion and pancetta looks great and I have been wanting a earthy smoky pasta dish and I think this is it.

Ingrid said...

Thanks, Whitney!

Iliana said...

I just made the Pasta with Butternut squash and pancetta and it was AMAZING!