This one is from a beautiful Ironage boar belly. This breed is a cross between a Tamworth sow, and a male wild boar. The fleshy taste of the wild boar combines with the fattiness of the Tamworth pig, giving the meat incredible flavour. Tamworth pigs are known as "bacon pigs" because of their wide bellies, making this crossbreed a natural choice for a flat, Italian style pancetta.
I did a salt-box method cure, where the meat is heavily dredged in your cure mixture, and left to sit until stiff, and cured through. For this piece, the meat felt reasonably stiff, and no longer completely "raw," after five days. After rinsing, I give it a quick rub with bay leaf, black pepper, and red chili.
The drying took about two months. Generally, we're looking for about a 30% weight loss from moisture. This one didn't quite lose that much weight - since there is so much fat, which doesn't really dehydrate. Curiously, there was no mold growth throughout the entire drying process.
The thing I'm finding difficult about all this meat curing, is the inability to taste as you go. It's very frustrating to cure a cut of meat, hang it, and find out it's too salty three months down the road. Nothing could be more frustrating.
Not so with this pancetta. The flavour came out incredible. Very nice balance of salt; pleasant earthiness from the bay and peppercorn, and a subtle kick of heat to finish. We're very impressed by the astounding creaminess, and gorgeous texture of the fat. Pretty decent for a first go round, and the first cure without an explicit recipe.