Pancetta recipe – made in a home fridge

Pancetta is the original bacon. Amazingly enough it is a very easy thing to make at home.

This pancetta recipe is a classic example of refrigerator charcuterie that has consistent results and requires no special set-up.

The Roman legionnaires were snacking on this delectable meat candy in between battles.

This traditional pork belly preparation can be made either as a slab (stesa) or roll (arrotolata), as you prefer.

Here is the recipe we used:

Pork belly           (we used two 5 lb. pieces)               10 lb. (4.5kg)

Garlic, minced                      4 cloves

InstaCure #2   (0.25% of meat weight)   2 tsp (11g)

Kosher salt (3% of meat weight)   3/4 cup (120g)

Dark brown sugar                  2 tbsp (30g)

Black pepper, coarsely ground  4 tbsp (8g)

Juniper berries, crushed            2 tbsp (10g)

Bay leaves, crumbled               4 (4g)

Nutmeg, freshly grated             1 tsp (2g)

Fresh thyme                    4 or 5 sprigs

Here are some beauty shots of the end product:

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We started out with two 5lb pieces of pork belly that we bought at our nearby Whole Foods supermarket


We ground up the spices and the curing salt together and rubbed the bellies with the mixture:


We placed each belly into a Ziplock plastic bag and put in the refrigerator for two weeks


After the two weeks we  washed off the excess cure and spices. Don’t mind the burn marks on our chef-trainees arms he didn’t get them making Pancetta.


We rolled one of the bellies and tied it with butchers twine (say it with me) Arrottolata! and left the other one flat Stesa style.






The bellies are ready to go into UMAi Dry at this point. UMAi Dry is a special membrane material that will allow the pancetta to age in our home fridge. We have done this pancetta a couple of times inUMAi Dry and each time the results were excellent and consistent.

UMAi Dry looks like a regular plastic bag, but it has magic properties of letting the moisture out and letting oxygen in, while protecting the meat and its surroundings from mold, odors and other undesirable things.



UMAi Dry is applied with a vacuum sealer, but it is not a vacuum bag. All we have to do is to get the bag into the contact with the moist meat surface and it a few days, the bag will stick to the meat and it will age/dry perfectly.



Here it is all sealed up in UMAi Dry and ready to go rest in the fridge for 6-8 weeks.

Yea I know, thats a long time, but all good things are worth the wait.



Voila! 7 weeks later we have a delectable hunk of meat candy. Best served thinly sliced on a slicer we like the Chef’s Choice Model 632 slicer with non-serrated blade.




Mortadella di Bologna – Made at Home with UMAi Dry®

Mortadella is a classic italian staple dating back to Roman times when they used to flavor it with myrtle berries (rather than precious peppercorns, as we do today). The most well known is the Bologna version of this versatile sausage.


We decided to employ UMAi Dry® in this classic cooked sausage application. Our recipe comes from the Stanley Marianski collection available on his website (or from his book on our website). The results exceeded our expectations so we decided to share this with the world.

Here is the recipe:

(Note: We added some ice water to the emulsion, which is not in the original recipe)

Mortadella di Bologna

Pork                     1590g  3.5 lb

Jowls, bacon or fat trimmings      454g     1 lb

Back fat   227g       0.5 lb

Salt 41g                  1.5oz

Instacure #1     5g      1 tsp

White pepper     4.5g   2 tsp

Whole peppercorns      9g   2 tsp

Coriander 1.13  1/2 tsp Garlic powder   3.5g   1 tsp

Anise 2.27g                              1 tsp

Mace 2.27g                              1 tsp

Caraway, ground    1.14g       1/2 tsp

Pistachios, whole   8g           1/2 c

Cold red wine   150ml           1/2 c

Ice water 150ml 1/2 c

First of all: Start with frozen strips of meat! The most important predictor of successful results in sausage-making is the temperature of the meat during grinding, mixing and cooking. It should be cold, cold, COLD.  We make it a habit slice the meat into finger thickness strips and freeze them between layers of plastic wrap to keep them separated.  Meat prepared and set to freeze–onto the next step.


We prepared our spices and cure (keeping the pistachios and whole peppercorns separate, to be added at the end).


This time, we used a mortar and pestle on the larger spices, then mixed it all with the cure (salt and Instacure #1–fast acting type for cooked sausage).


Next, we cut the meat into 1 inch cubes, so they would fit into the grinder hopper:


We first ground the meat through a 8mm plate. Since we only had a hand grinder, this was a work out and a half for the biceps!


After once again chilling the meat down, we mixed the spices and cure into the ground meat using paddles to keep the meat cold.  This also makes it easy to so the mix in the dry ingredients evenly and easily.


After the spices and cure were in, we loaded the meat into the grinder for the second grind through a  4.5 mm plate . We used a scoop to load the ground, seasoned meat instead of hands to prevent the meat from warming up.


Once the meat was ground, the magic of mortadella-making began.  This type of sausage needs to be emulsified in a food processor. Ours was a vintage Cuisinart that handled the three batch job with proficiency.

During emulsification, water and wine were added slowly to keep the meat mass moving. Special care needs to be taken not to over-emulsify.  The food processor only needs to grind the meat into a creamy mass that stretches like a dough when you pinch out a bit. Once that consistency is achieved, the process needs to stop.

We found it best to pulse the processor and check the meat consistency periodically to make sure that it wouldn’t get over-worked. Over-worked meat can produce a rubbery texture in the finished Mortadella.

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With our emulsion ready, once more we tucked it into the fridge to chill.

While it was cooling down, we finely cubed the back fat, then blanched it with boiling water through a sieve.  This helps the fat to adhere to the emulsion and prevents it from falling out of the slices after the Mortadella is done and sliced.


We took the emulsion out of the fridge, mixed in the peppercorns, finely chopped back fat and pistachios–and we were ready for the UMAi Dry®.


For this recipe, we needed an UMAi Dry® casing with a pretty large diameter. We used the 8 in x 18 inch (200 x 450) UMAi Dry Tenderloin/Large Charcuterie size. We gathered the end of the bag in an accordion pattern and used a zip-tie/cable tie to secure the end closed.

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Once the end was secured, we stuffed the meat into the bag using our 5# stuffer doing our very best to avoid air pockets.


Once the meat was stuffed into the UMAi Dry® casing, we pressed out any air left at the top of the bag out and closed it off with another zip tie.

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Now it was time for the “legatura”–a special way of the tying of the sausage to support it. The basic principle is that the sausage should be hung supported from the bottom and not hung by the top end, so as not to put stress on the casing. The blanket stitch pattern of tying worked well for us. Here is the Mortadella hanging in the oven:


We then set the oven to 170F or 77C (the lowest temp possible on our oven) and put a roasting pan under the sausage and poured several cups of boiling water into the roasting pan to provide a source of moist heat to the oven.

We let the sausage cook for 8 hours until it reached an internal temperature of 154F or 68C. We used our iGrill thermometer to measure the internal temperature–waiting until the meat had cooked long enough to be solid and past the risk of bursting. The probe should not be inserted into the sausage in the beginning of the cook cycle since the meat is still quite liquid and can leak out. We inserted the probe after 7 hours of cooking:

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The color of the meat was a rosy cherrywood color and the warm, spicy, meaty aroma filled the house (making the dog crazy!).  If your only impression of bologna is the pre-sliced plastic floppy frisbee-worthy variety, the aroma of a true mortadella may be beyond what you can imagine.

The UMAi Dry® performed exceptionally well, releasing moisture and while also preventing the product from drying out. We took the Mortadella out of the oven, immediately put it into a pot of cold water for 10 minutes to chill the surface and arrest the rise of the internal temperature.


The final step was to allow the Mortadella to rest in the refrigerator for 24 hours, allowing its internal temperature to drop:


Once chilled, the Mortadella was ready to slice.

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We fired up our Chef’s Choice slicer and went to work.  The Mortadella rolled off in tender, delectable slices.  We needed to retrieve the occasional escaped pistachio, but the end result had the complex aroma of several spices and a flavor uniting the zing of the peppercorns and mellowness imparted by the pistachios and cubes of back fat.

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We would show you how tasty it was, if we could!  Sharing it with friends and exploding their pre-conceptions about bologna has been a blast.  Intense process–but well worth the time and effort.