Pancetta lends a unique taste to soups, sauces, skews and stuffed dishes. Basically an Italian food, it is salted meat flavored with culinary seasonings, and then dried by curing. Many people know it as Italian bacon, because of their similar appearance and taste. Also, both these items use the same pork belly meat for preparation. Pancetta serves as an excellent substitute for guanciale in classic pasta recipes. But, how about using a pancetta substitute? What can you use to replace it in Italian dishes? Scroll down to get information on the same.
How to Substitute Pancetta?
While pancetta recipes are numerous, adding this cured meat in pasta tastes delicious. You can enjoy pork-flavored pasta, without the smoky taste of bacon. If you love to have Italian foods in restaurants, you may be already aware about what a pancetta is. Varieties of this cured meat are available in different regions, which vary in culinary spices used for flavoring and method of curing. In the market, pancetta is usually sold like sausages (as rolled meat), or you will also get straight and cube types.
Imagine you have already decided to cook tasty pasta with pancetta, and later found out that you run out of this cured meat. And the worst part is you don't get pancetta easily in your local supermarket. Well, in such a case, you can think of substitutions and satisfy your taste buds. But, what all can you use for replacing it without sacrificing the taste of your meal? Some food items that you can use as replacements of pancetta are mentioned below.
The best pancetta substitute is prosciutto. It doesn't have a smoky taste like bacon. This cured hog jowl is prepared from salted ham. After brining, ham is air-dried for several months to make prosciutto. It is packaged as thin slices of meat that are nearly transparent. While using as a substitute for pancetta, lightly cook it and then toss with pasta directly. You can even add uncooked prosciutto to add rich pork flavor in pasta.
Another type of cured meat that can be added in place of pancetta is bacon. Pancetta differs from American bacon in the meat seasoning and curing methods. As we all know, bacon is made by smoking salted pork belly. Pancetta, on the other hand, is an unsmoked, but dried pork belly treated with salt, pepper, nutmeg and other spices. While using bacon as a pancetta alternative, you can think of boiling meat for 2-3 minutes. This reduces smoky taste of bacon, and will make it taste more like pancetta.
This is for vegetarians or those who do not eat pork. Full-flavored olives serve as excellent vegetarian pancetta fill-ins. They are already salted (like pancetta) and add some meatiness to the dish. Of course, you will not get the same pork taste, but adding flavored olives do work wonders in preparing Italian food. In addition to this alternative of pancetta, vegetarian bacon or some crispy bacon strips can be added as substitutions for this cured meat.
If at all, you do not have the above mentioned food items for substituting pancetta, you can make use of salted pork, pork tocino, salted or smoked ventrèche, smoked ham and smoked sausage. While using any of these replacements, make sure you take a note of the flavor and quantity of cured meat. Accordingly, adjust the salt and favoring spices to suit your taste buds.
So, this was an overview about pancetta substitutes. To be precise, nothing can match the flavor and taste of it lends in Italian pasta. So, you can look for it in Italian markets, and buy in bulk. Pancetta can be preserved for several months in the refrigerator. All you need to do is fill few slices in separate bags, and keep it in the freezer section.