Brian Polcyn's book Charcuterie is a must have for anyone interested in salting, smoking or curing meat. Brian is an authority on the subject, and the book covers a range of products, from sausages and bacon, to confits, pates and terrines. This traditional pancetta recipe is taken more or less verbatim from the book. It's a delightful looking swiss-roll-esque log, with cracked black pepper through the layers. In a happy accident, I added too much brown sugar to the cure mix, and it turned out to be really tasty – a kind of sweet cure, if you like. Feel free to reduce the sugar slightly in the recipe if you wish, it will still taste great. Once fully cured, the pancetta will happily keep for several weeks in the fridge.

You'll need to source some pink salt, also known as instacure #1, which is a mixture of regular salt and sodium nitrate. This allows the meat to retain its pink colour when cooked. Be careful when measuring the pink salt, because sodium nitrate can be toxic in larger quantities. You'll also need a ziplock bag or plastic tray large enough to hold the pork belly, and butcher's string to tie it up into a log. If you want, you could omit this step and leave it as a flat piece (or cut into smaller pieces). This is known as pancetta tesa.

Rolled Pancetta Recipe


  • 2.25 kg pork belly (skinless and boneless)
  • 12 g pink salt
  • 50 g table salt
  • 35 g dark brown sugar
  • 40 g black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 dried bay leaves, crumbled
  • 4 g freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 10 g juniper berries, crushed


  1. Trim the pork belly so its edges are neat and square. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl, reserving half of the black pepper for later, and mix thoroughly. Run the mixture all over the belly to give it a uniform coating over the whole surface.

  2. Place the belly in a large ziplock bag or a covered plastic container just big enough to hold it. Refrigerate for 7 days, turning over once per day.

  3. After 7 days, check the belly for firmness. If it feels firm at its thickest point, it's cured. If it still feels a bit squishy, continue to refrigerate on the cure for 1 or 2 days more.

  4. Remove the belly from the bag or container, rinse it thoroughly under cold water and pat it dry. Sprinkle the meat side with the reserved cracked black pepper. Starting from the long side, roll it up tightly, as you would a thick towel, and tie it very tightly with butchers's string at 1 to 2 inch intervals; it's important that there are no air pockets (it can't be too tightly rolled). Alternatively, the pancetta can be left flat (optionally cutting it into smaller pieces), wrapped in cheesecloth and hung to dry for 5 to 7 days.

  5. Using the string to suspend it, hang the pancetta in a cool, humid place to dry for 2 weeks. The ideal conditions are 8 to 15 degrees celsius, with 60 percent humidity, but a cool, humid basement works fine, as will most any place that's out of the sun (I hang mine in the kitchen, next to a north-facing window where it's cool most of the time). If your pancetta begins to get hard, it's drying out and should be wrapped and refrigerated. It should be firm but pliable, but not hard. Because pancetta isn't meant to be eaten raw, the drying isn't as critical a stage as it is for products such as prosciutto for example, but drying helps to enhance its texture, intensify its flavour and helps it to last longer.

  6. After drying, the pancetta can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for 3 weeks, or more, and frozen for up to 4 months.