January 15, 2011

Wow, there are a lot of you jumping on the meat-wagon. (Deadline for inclusion on the blog roll is February 1, 2011.) Kim and I are so happy to have so much support for our Year of Meat. I’ve made some changes to accommodate the enormous response – check out the pull down menu at the top of this page – that’s where you’ll find all the Charcutepalooza information for the rest of the year. Thanks go out to the amazing, brilliant, WordPress designer, Barb (@VinoLuci on Twitter,) who helped us figure it all out.

Kim and I were over the moon when Michael Ruhlman gave us a little link-love on his blog, and, behind the scenes, took the time to review and comment on our super secret plans. We’ve also been written up on Food52 (thank you Amanda Hesser & Merrill Stubbs!) We’ve been called a trend in the SFWeekly blog and the Washington Post blog “Around The Water Cooler”. There was even a commenter on CHOW who said he intended to participate in Charcutepalooza.

And check this out. Punk Domestics set aside a new category of listings for salume and charcuterie and is interested in linking to your inspiring DIY kitchen stories. It’s a great site, so join, contribute and tell everyone about your Meaty Experiences.

There is more to come, but for now, we’re thrilled to have fantastic stories to read.  Stories about babies being moved to make room for ducks, Christmas in January (so far the only goose breasts participating), and how the French and Italians make duck proscuitto. Farmers are joining, city-dwellers, bloggers you know and love, and one young chef who has us all astonished.

Photos have been shared on Flickr – so many breasts on one site and no request to verify you’re over 18. And for off color humor and way too many meat jokes, follow us on Twitter using the #charcutepalooza hashtag.

Duck Prosciutto Posts Today

Today is the day we’ll be watching for your duck prosciutto posts. Remember, we’re looking for your recipes and ways you are enjoying your charcuterie. Kim will put together a wrap up post on the last day of January with some links to your brilliance, so if your post isn’t ready today, you’ve still got some time.

It’s not too late to join the Charcutepalooza. There’s no obligation to participate every month, but for those of you who post all twelve months of challenges … we’ve got an amazing grand prize.

Kate Hill has been incredibly generous. She’s offered up a place in one of her week-long butchering classes  at her meat school in Camont. Yes, that’s right. In France – Gascony, to be exact, learning about charcuterie where many say the craft was first perfected. We’re working on finding more sponsorships for more prizes and giveaways, and we’re firming up how the grand prize will be awarded. We’ll get back to you before long on all that.

One thing – we realize many of you did not have time to complete the duck prosciutto challenge. Therefore, in order to qualify for the grand prize, just make and post about the duck prosciutto sometime before the end of the year.

The February Challenge

We’ll be posting two challenges each month – the Apprentice Challenge and the Charcutiere Challenge.

This month, we’re taking on the Salt Cure. Where January’s duck was cured in salt and hung to dry, we’re going to be exploring salt in even more depth this month.

First, read about salt cures in Charcuterie.

And then, for the Apprentice Challenge, make some fresh bacon. It can be pork, lamb, goat belly – whatever floats your boat. For now, we’re not asking you to smoke the bacon, simply to cure and roast. Fresh Bacon. You’re going to love it.

Are you in for the Charcutiere Challenge? Ready to bring it? You’re going to make pancetta. Or guanciale. There is no need to limit yourself to pork, check out this inspiring take on lamb prosciutto.

first attempt - too loose

(Not on the meat-wagon? While not included in this month’s official Charcutepalooza challenge, you might opt to cure salmon, make salt cod. Even beef jerky. Why not preserve lemons? There are plenty of ways to play in the salt.)

Posting date is February 15th.  Please tag your post Charcutepalooza. And if you want to be sure we’ll see it, send a link to me, or to Kim, or post on the Charcutepalooza Facebook page. Kim will do a wrap up of our favorite Salt Cure blog posts on the last day of February.

Sunday, January 16th at 9pm (EST), The Culinary Institute’s Bob del Grosso will join Kim and me for a Twitterchat (at hashtag #Charcutepalooza,) to answer questions and get this meat party started. Details on the chat are on Kim’s post.

A Little Help From My Friends

Okay. Imagine this. You’re married to a vegetarian. You ask.. “Honey, could you take pictures while I butcher this duck?” Imagine the sound of crickets. It became clear I needed a meat-friend.

Back in September, 2009, when I finished my charcuterie class, I asked my pal Paul if he wanted to make some sausages with me, and a partnership was born. I have to say, it’s a lot more fun to do this with someone. And there are many charcuterie activities for which four hands are useful. For this challenge, we were all in the kitchen. Paul, Elaine, me, and Pedro and LuLu, the two chihauhas.

We started with two Berkshire pork bellies, one was a gift from my friends in Tennessee, the other purchased from Evensong Farm in Maryland. They were very different shapes – one thinner with less fat – seemed perfect for rolling for pancetta. The other thicker and a very bacon-like shape that looked just right for slicing.

Day One

We fortified ourselves with wine and duck proscuitto. Also fontina, pepperoni and mortadella from the local Italian market – inspiration for more projects in the future!

There have been many questions from all of you about pink salt. Pink salt is a combination of sodium chloride – salt – and nitrite – a preserving agent. I’ve made fresh bacon using kosher salt and I’ve made it with pink salt. The taste is nearly the same. Some people reported butchers who use sea salt. I think the bacon cured with kosher salt tastes more like pork roast than bacon, but that’s just me. And there is nothing wrong with pork roast. With pink salt, the bacon is a color we’re more used to seeing in bacon. Pinker. From what I can suss out, it’s all a matter of aesthetics.

on the left - bacon cured with pink salt; at the top, without pink salt; on the right, the rind

You can very easily forego the pink salt to cure fresh bacon. Eugenia Bone, in her book Well-Preserved, suggests a ratio of 3 Tbls. salt to 2-1/2 lbs. of meat. Be aware of this ratio and use your scale, and your calculator, to adjust the ingredients appropriately.

If you do choose to use pink salt, please wear gloves. No need to cure your hands.

If your meat comes with a skin/rind on it, do not remove this gorgeousness until you have finished roasting the belly. The bacon rind is a wonderful tasty way to get soup started or flavor stew, stocks… well, you know, anything, really.

We massaged a brown sugar rub all over the belly, sealed the meat in a large bag, and put it in the refrigerator where Paul promised to flip the bag over and continue the massage every day for a week.

The other, larger, thinner piece needed to be trimmed. I’ve included pictures of Paul’s genius knife skills and trimming work on our Flickr page.  Post trim, this nice rectangular piece was flavored with a strong peppery juniper and bay mix, then wrapped up for the ‘fridge with similar rub-the-belly instructions.

Day Seven

It’s another night at Paul & Elaine’s. We’re making bacon. It’s roasting in the oven, after a good rinse and drying well. Now, the scent is tantalizing us as we wrestle with the pancetta. Once the bacon has roasted to an internal temperature of 150°, we’ll chill it completely before making serving sized packages for the freezer. Some will be sliced, some will be cut into lardons. It will be appreciated, that’s certain.

We noticed that Paul’s oven, set at 200°, took a very long time to roast the belly. We raised the temp to 225° after two hours, and it was done 30 minutes later. I’m pretty sure the oven temperature was wonky, so Paul’s going to get an oven thermometer. Always a good idea to have a thermometer in your oven. This is my favorite. In my home oven, the low temperature setting is a little too functional, and I’ve had some issues with bacon roasting too quickly and become tough. So watch your oven temperature carefully.

Next up –  pancetta. Paul thought we might use a Silpat to roll the belly up as though it were sushi.  I don’t know if it made things easier. Maybe it  helped keep the belly from sliding all over the counter. Next time, I might try plastic wrap as the sushi-roll-stand-in. Rolling the pancetta was not easy. We got it rolled once, and even trussed it, but there were a lot of air pockets, something Ruhlman warns about. It’s these airpockets where bacteria and mold can grow. That worried us enough to become slightly obsessive about how tight the roll was, and how well trussed. Yes, we undid the entire thing a couple of times, retrussed (oh, that was fun), and finally, on the third try, had a fairly tight roll. I fussed for awhile longer, tightening the butcher’s string over and over. When you are trussing, don’t make knots at every junction… that makes it impossible to retighten the trussing, and you’re going to want to tighten it a few times. I’m hoping a year of this will make me a better trusser.

This belly was big – over 4#, and the book’s instructions tell you to roll from the long side. We could see it would be a very long pancetta roll, but we kept it in one piece to roll and truss, then cut it in half for hanging. As we tied (yes, it took all four hands) and tucked and worked to get the air out of the roll of meat, I thought about flat pancetta. Beginning to sound like a really good idea except it won’t fit in the wine refrigerator.

I’ve been tinkering with my newly acquired Craigslist wine fridge, now installed in a corner of the basement. I used a humidity/temperature thermometer and moved the dial up and down until I had the required environment for pancetta – the same as the duck – 50-60°F and 70-80% humidity. The temperature was easy, but humidity was low until I install a bowl of salted water in the bottom of the fridge. This pancetta smells divine even now, just a week into the cure. I’m going to go for the full two weeks, after which Paul, Elaine and I will get together for a taste test. I’m already dreaming of a pasta dish with cream and peas.


When we trimmed pork belly for the pancetta, I ended up with about a pound of scraps, which meant rillette!  I flavored it with Calvados and thyme, using this recipe as inspiration, as well as my go-to rillette recipe in The Cook and The Gardener.

We served it with local black walnuts, bright green olives (oops, forgot to buy cornichons), sharp mustard and baguette. We needed sustenance for the pancetta rolling.

And with the roasted, fresh bacon trimmings, there was only one thing we wanted. Paul, Elaine and I share a love of the classic French lardons salad. Here’s our take on it. Note the aesthetics of the two lardons types – one treated with pink salt and one without.


Bacon Lovers Salad, with an Egg
Serves 4

1/2# Bacon lardons
8 thin slices of baguette
4 Farm fresh eggs
12 Radishes
4 medium Golden beets
12 oz. Baby arugula
1 T Shallot
2 T aged balsamic vinegar (or any vinegar you love)
6 T Olive oil (something nice)
Fleur de sel or a nice crunchy large crystal salt (smoked salt is fabulous)
Cracked black pepper

Scrub the beets, leaving them whole and unpeeled, drizzle with olive oil and wrap tightly in foil. Roast at 425° for 40 min. Allow the beets to cool slightly, then peel and quarter.
Blanch the lardons briefly and dry on paper towels.
In a saute pan, crisp up the lardons.
Remove the lardons from the pan with a slotted spoon, heat the bacon fat in the pan and quickly saute the slices of baguette, flipping when crispy.
Fill a medium saucepan with water, and bring it to a simmer. Poach one egg for each person.
In a large bowl, combine the arugula, shallot, vinegar and olive oil. Toss well, add salt and pepper and taste, correct seasoning.
Arrange the salad as shown, or in your own design-y way.


149 Responses to “Charcutepalooza February Challenge. The Salt Cure.”

  1. Warner aka ntsc

    The biggest problem is I can make this stuff far faster than my wife can use it. I’ve 3+ pounds of pancetta, 9 lbs of two bacons, about that much of two different proscuittos, not to mention the duck one and about 40 pounds of sausage in the freezer.

    I may try something with lamb for February.

    • Mr. Neil

      Yes, by now you know Mr. Neil (through Mardi / eatlivetravelwite.com) is participating in the full year of challenges.

      I’m not sure why you gave a “free pass” to those who didn’t complete the first challenge, though…. 😉

      • Cathy

        Hi Neil, Thanks for asking. We decided that our skimpy two week notice to get involved just wasn’t fair to all those who learned about the meat-wagon too late to meet the deadline. We’re so thrilled to see so many bloggers who want to play along, so we made the decision to expand the ruhls for the duck, only. It’s the Big Tent approach. All the best, Cathy (and Kim)

  2. Julia

    Great post, so much to think about! I think I’m on the pancetta train. Also, goat bacon? Really? I never thought of that. But I am now!

  3. The Mom

    I made bacon from my first pork belly, but I have another in the freezer. I’m really wanting to make something with more zing this time. Count me in!

  4. David Dadekian

    Outstanding! I bought a 7+ lb. skin-on Berkshire belly at our wonderful Persimmon Provisions butcher shop just yesterday, planning on making fresh bacon/pancetta (if it wasn’t averaging 7 degrees out I’d take it outside to smoke). When I walked out of my store with the meat I thought, wouldn’t it be great if this was the next challenge too! Let’s see if I can pull off this psychic feat on March 14!

  5. carter @ the kitchenette

    I just heard of this challenge the other day and I’m so glad to see you’re still accepting participants!

    I love that the apprentice challenge is bacon, and the charcutiere challenge is pancetta, which I made last year! I think I’m definitely going to do bacon… we’re running a little low on our stash!

  6. Kathy's Pete

    Lucky me – I just saw a hog jowl in the back corner of the freezer. Guanciale it will be!

  7. trinichad

    nice read!! opting for guanciale here since we did 50# of bacon and some pancetta at Thanksgiving (made some nice Christmas gifts of meat.).

    Also glad I can do the duck breast later in the year since I get to the site late rather than post from earlier batches – i haven’t done a duck breast in a while so now i can play!! So just to be clear, we don’t have to adhere to Ruhlman/Polcyn verbatim just use it as a guide?


    • Cathy

      We’re using the Charcuterie book as our guide for methodology and technique. The rest is up to you! So glad you’re joining in.

  8. Sarah

    Thanks again for hosting! I’m having fun reading everyone’s posts . . . now, to decide which recipe to make. Bacon or pancetta are both favorites – I might just have to make both! 🙂


  9. Sharon Miro

    Love this post! when I first started to cure meat, I used my grill to smoke, and have now graduated to a self standing propane fired smoker.

    I am blessed in many ways, but two are specific to cured meat!
    1) I have a full underground basement that is at below 58 degrees all the time–humidity is perfect about 70%, and more if it’s raining! 2) I have a great partner — because you are right, sometimes you need more hands and it is more fun to share this! My partner is my daughter, the talented formerchef.com. She is the one who listened to my day dreams and bought me the Ruhlman book for Mothers Day in 2009.
    In 2010 we bought a whole pasture raised pig together, and are cooking, curing and stuffing our way thru, so this wonderful exhange of ideas comes along at the perfect time!

  10. Mary Holley

    I’ve made pancetta and bacon and bought another pig so I could make them again, and the meat processor SLICED all of my belly and the jowls : ( Any ideas of how I can salvage my poor beastie and join in the fun?

    • Cathy

      That is the saddest thing I’ve ever heard. What was that processor thinking? Tomorrow night (Sunday, 1/16) at 9pmEST, Bob delGrosso from the CIA is going to be available to answer questions during our Twitter Talk. Just sign into Twitter and follow the hashtag #Charcutepalooza. He’d be a great person to ask.

      • Mary Holley

        Darn–I missed it! I’m thinking of sausage and rilletes with the sliced pieces. I have another jowl and am making guanciale for the challenge though! What fun! Thanks for the response…

    • garth

      GRAR! That sort of think is why we’re now processing our own critters. Your lucky to have gotten the jowls, though. It’s hard to find a butcher that includes them.

    • Gerald

      I have this problem. Most meat processors are not not used to certain types of orders. I ordered a beef brisket untrimmed (fat intact) for BBQ, and it was trimmed lean. I showed them their own ticket saying “untrimmed” and refused the order. They supplied me with a beautiful fatty brisket the following weekend and haven’t made the same mistake since.


  11. Mike Stelck

    Love this challenge! My wife and I have talked it over and we are going to do both challenges. The duck prosciutto was so good that I am going to do another batch of it as well.

  12. Abbe

    I found out about charcutepalooza after the duck prosciutto challenge ended, and I’ve kind of taken maternity leave from my blog(s) but on the other hand, I’ve got an uncured pork belly sitting in the freezer waiting to kick me to do it, Charcuterie on the bookshelf, pink salt in the spice cabinet…

    My January meat project so far was another batch of corned beef tongue, but I did that last January too. So on to the next challenge! (And to the duck prosciutto after I acquire some duck.)

  13. Leanne Opaskar

    *raises a hand* I want to join in! We’ll be doing bacon and posting over at http://www.auntiepasto.com

    I am also glad to hear it’s not too late to do the duck breast — temps are high right now in SoCal and I do not have a spare fridge to do it in. Hoping to do it later, because it sounds amazing. Does anyone have tips on how to set up a small fridge for doing meat and cheese curing? Is there anything special that needs doing besides adjusting the thermostat and perhaps adding a bowl of water for more humidity?

  14. Mosaica

    Chiming in! I just made a guanciale a few weeks ago, so I think I’ll make a fresh bacon and a pancetta, possibly a pancetta tesa because of my humidity-challenged curing environment. Yipee!

  15. Paul (Mr H)

    Just got an oven thermometer and the oven is holding fast at 200 (and seems very proud about it). Does this mean I’ve lost my case for a Viking?

  16. Peter

    What a fun idea! Please include me in the roster. I have bresaola and duck prosciutto hanging now, and tongue pastrami in the fridge along with a pig ear-chanterelle terrine. Picking up a whole pork belly this weekend. I’ll post about them as various things are ready.

  17. John Jezl

    In the process of resurrecting my blog to get officially in on the action. My duck is at 74% of its original weight, so I’m giving it a couple more days and will post after that.

    I tried to ask a couple of questions during the BdG talk, but discovered my twitter settings were on “Private” and they didn’t show up. 🙁 Maybe next time.

  18. StephIrey

    After seeing the duck prosciutto on Mardi’s site…I just couldn’t resist joining this group too. Got my pork bellies this morning, so I’ll be trying bacon and pancetta (23 lbs total for 2…these are big puppies…or piggies, I guess). Plus, I’ll catch up on the duck prosciutto in the next few weeks! Such a great project!!

    • Cathy

      We’re using Charcuterie as a guide for TECHNIQUE more than the actual recipes. I do recommend sticking to the recipes for basic cures if you are new to curing meats. Beyond the basic cure, there is a lot of room for interpretation and flavor profiling.

  19. Angela

    How do I sign up? Hubby and I just started making sausage again and this is challenge is awesome! I am deffinitely a beginner, but bacon is a project I’ve wanted to try for a while. So excited to play along.

    • Cathy

      Please send me an email (use the contact form) to let me know your blog name & URL. Thanks, Cathy

      • s.

        I do not see a contact form on this page, but I do plan on participating and posting @ edibleobsession.com.


  20. JimD

    Last weekend I made the Pate’ campagne and the saucisson sec recipes out of Charcuterie as well as 10 pounds of Cajun Boudin and a riff on Bruce Adele’s chicken apple sausage. This weekend it is Guanciale and Pancetta, the jowel and belly will be at the farmers market tomorrow!

    When I remodeled my 100 year old house I put in a 6’X7′ wine cellar. (who needs a coat closet!) I found that a single medium sized bowl of heavily salted water keeps it at exactly 70% RH and it is set at 57 degrees F. I am going to build a rack from PVC (non-porous esily collapsed and bleached.) since I have it cluged (big time) now.

    The Saucisson sec is going to cure for 18 days so I guess the Guanciale and Pancetta will keep it company!

    • Cathy

      Jim, That’s great information. There are many of us tinkering with wine fridges (me included.) The bowl of salty water is critical to success, IMO. Let us know about your saucisson sec adventures. – Cathy

      • JimD

        Ok, here is a true beginners question. I got my Jowl today for the guanciale and it has the skin on. I am thinking that the skin has to go. Anyone know for sure before I do something I can’t undo?

          • JimD

            So I e-mailed Michael and he sent back that either way is good. But if you take it off to use the skins in stocks for great body. I am going to take the skin off mine.

            I just finished building my PVC curing rack anyone want to see what it looks like or how I did it?

          • JimD

            Done! I have also set up a blog for to chronicle my charcuterie adventures. My first post is on how to make the curing rack. It is at garydog.blogspot.com

  21. Meg

    I just picked up some pork belly last night at the Meat Hook in Brooklyn, and plan to start curing my bacon this weekend. I’m choosing to not use the pink salt, as I’m very curious how to do it without. Really looking forward to participating in this challenge and in future ones this year!

    Would love to be on the blogger list – I sent you a note via the contact form. Hope it arrived! Thanks so much for putting together and curating this project, Cathy!

    • Gerald

      I understand the hesitation in using pink salt. Used incorrectly it is dangerous. The use of this ingredient is one of the few times I strictly follow recipees. I recommend using it for the pink color it retains in the meat and the antimicrobial properties.


  22. Norizan Paterra

    We are not pork eaters so our next challenge is making salt cod. But we would like to try making pancetta and guanciale. Any ideas what other meats we could substitute?

    • Cathy

      You might consider lamb or goat for the jowl or belly. I haven’t had lamb belly, but I have tasted goat belly and it was spectacular. It’s a little more difficult to source, but halal butchers are a good place to start.

  23. Kathy's Pete

    Did someone break the forwarding at charcutepalooza.com? It used to redirect to this blog and now it doesn’t.

    Looks like editing is ongoing at the moment…

  24. Scott JOhnston

    Thanks for all the great comments on this site. I made two large Haggis yesterday for an upcoming Burns Night (a story for another post)and while I was at the store grabbed two pounds of pork belly (in three pieces). This was an asian store so the belly was cut 7″ by 2″ and maybe 2″ thick (bacon size). I went ahead and dregged them in the salt/sugar/pink salt mixtured and then ziplocked them with brown sugar, pepper, juniper berries, corriander seed, bay leaf and mustard powder. Then are now having a 7 day rest in the frig. I am then going to rince and hang them. Do I need to worry as these pieces are small and not one big piece? Any reason not to hang and age like pancetta?

    • Cathy

      Size, evidently, doesn’t matter in the case of pancetta! For more insight, PodChef (www.podchef.com) has some terrific videos, including one in which he rolls a small pork belly into traditional pancetta.

    • Gerald

      I got my first pork belly for bacon at an Asian market about 2 years ago. I was lucky enough, that when I asked if they had any not cut up yet, they did. Your cure is similiar to what I’ve been using based on R&P, but I haven’t tried mustard or juniper yet in the cure. I did use juniper for the duck prosciutto and the duck confit I made about 2 weeks ago. I got the juniper at a Polish market; the dried berries were still soft and full of flavor and gave the duck a nice flavor. I’m certainly getting more juniper for the next batch of bacon I make. I plan on smoking some salmon soon and was going to use juniper with it too.


  25. Stephen

    I was waffling as to whether or not I would have time to do this with you all, but I’ve finally decided that I just need to do it. Please add me to the blogroll, and I’ll try my hardest to keep up.

    Now if someone could tell me where that “extra hour in a day” button is, I’ll be needing that.

  26. Natalie Sztern

    Okay I have a confession: I had to ‘steal’ the Charcuterie book from the local Library and ‘pay’ them for it :)) None left at the bookstores.

    if I can’t do good math and 5 lbs of bacon is too much…well I am afraid to do the math for a smaller amount. In the book he gives all kinds of equations but is there a basic rule of thumb. I was told IF I were going to do this I should be following the instructions to a tee. whaddy a think for the Apprentice Challenge?

  27. Brian Silvey

    My pork belly is on order, picking it up on Sunday. Pink salt is ordered and will be deliverd on monday. I ordered one pound, enough for 480 pounds of meat. Hope that’s enough. I’m going for the rolled pancetta. I haven’t done much cooking that requires tying things up with string. I also have stubby inarticulate fingers. One of the concerns with rolled pancetta is air pockets. A nice tight tie is important. Could zip ties be used for this, or would that be cheating?


    • Cathy

      Hi Brian,
      I would just jump in a try your hand at trussing. It may take a few tries, but it’s worth learning to do it. If you’re having no fun at all, just make it a flat pancetta! Kate Hill has a video on her blog, as does Pod Chef. It’s not hard to do, just takes time. You Can Do It!
      Cheering you on,

      • Brian Silvey

        Jump I will. I watched the Kate Hill video. They seemed to wrap the string around and around instead of the “making loops” method I’ve seen elsewhere. Kate’s method looks much easier.


  28. Rachel @ Dog Island Farm

    OMG! I think my head is going to explode! I keep hearing about Charcutepalooza but now I’m going to do it! I’m totally going to do the bacon. This will be my very first go at curing something. Just in time because we’re going to be raising pigs come spring. Here we go!

  29. dorette

    hi there, just getting started, but wanted to be sure my pork-pie hat was in the ring! sent a form, but haven’t heard anything. merci!

  30. Linda

    Having just made a pancetta in Dec/Jan, and two guanciale before that, and two bacon before that, I decided to be consistent and keep with the duos, so I bought another pork belly for the February challenge. I’m still making many different dishes with the earlier pancetta and we enjoy the flavor so much that a second pancetta is definitely necessary. Everything thing should be at my blog and I’ll try to improve technical and camera skills so that everyone can enjoy a peek now and then. Without Charcutepalooza I never would be working so hard on this project which I enjoy immensely!

  31. Brook - Learn to Preserve

    I just decided to hop on the bandwagon a couple days ago, and now I need to take back every not-so-nice thing I said about my ex-husband (the BUTCHER) over the past 15 years. You see, when I mentioned to him today that I had joined the Charcutepalooza project and that I needed some pork belly, he GAVE me 10 pounds.
    My ex is Sicilian, so something tells me he’s going to want something out of the deal. What was I supposed to do? He made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.
    If you need me, I’ll be makin’ bacon in Seattle.

    • Cathy

      There is a lot of magic happening around Charcutepalooza! So glad you’re on the meat wagon.

  32. Diana

    I am a newbie to all of this “charcutiere” and am very excited to start! I love to cook, especially new recipes. My husband and i loved the cured meats we tried in Italy so I am anxious to get started on this challenge as soon as the storm here clears! I read that we should be using 3 tblsp salt per 2.5# of meat for the cure. Is it to be mixed in with the seasonings applied initially on day 1? I hope this doesn’t seem like a silly question but i don’t want to start off on the wrong foot! My husband is already drooling!!


    • Cathy

      Just follow the directions in M. Ruhlman’s book – the salt and the seasonings all go together.

  33. Rachel

    How is the pancetta doing? Have you learned anything about the different types of molds that grow on it? In my own experience, I’ve read a lot about the ‘white’ mold being ‘good’ and fuzzy and/or green mold being ‘bad’. But then there are photos of hanging meats in Italian shops with all sorts of colored molds growing on them…. How do you really know if your meat has gone bad?

    • Cathy

      I’ve been serving the pancetta for a couple of weeks now. Some is in the freezer. I’m already concerned that I didn’t make enough.

    • Cathy

      Rachel – these are great questions about the mold. In fact, yours, and other questions like this, are what prompted us to ask Michael Ruhlman to chime in about safety and sanity. He’ll be posting on his blog (www.ruhlman.com) next week. I’ll make sure to link to it. Keep asking these questions. It’s important and helps everyone! – Cathy

      • Gerald

        My wife and I have returned from Europe with Hungarian salami several times that would grow mold in the fridge at home. We would just wipe the mold off and slice it for eating for up to a year in the fridge. No one ever got sick.

  34. Luanne

    Yesterday I was finally ready to use the Pancetta I made a few weeks ago. Whipped up some fluffy potato gnocci pillows, tossed them in garlic, shallot, brown butter and pancetta….my stomach thanks you, my heart on the other hand, is moaning in distress. WOW was that good!

  35. Cochrancj

    I just finished my bacon, and OMG it is awesome! Way better than any store bought (barring the double-smoked variety I’ve been lucky to run across a time or two), really easy to make and ridiculously inexpensive. I will definitely be making this again, and in great varieties!

    I included it in my bacon-standard meal–eggs & hash browns–the meal I make to test all new varieties of bacon I run across.

  36. Brian Silvey

    Due to life stuff I was unable to to tie up my belly until today. It was spiced, put in the bag and set in the fridge on the Feb 1st so it’s been curing for 11 days. Is that too long? Will it cause any problems?


  37. Gerald

    I’ve been making bacon using Ruhlman and Polcyn as a guide for about 2 years and haven’t bought any during that time. My wife is from Poland and says my bacon is the best she’s ever tasted, and she doesn’t give complements easily especially to me. We’re in the middle of our 4th batch. For curing I slide the whole pork belly in a FoodSaver bag and vacuum seal it. I’ve been doing BBQ for almost 10 years and have a smoker, so I use a combination of hickory, cherry and apple wood to smoke the bacon for about 2-3 hours. I slice portions of various thickness and freeze in the FoodSaver bags.

    I made the duck prosciutto and had some last night. I also took some of the small pieces after slicing and added them to scrabbled eggs. I made the venison terrine 2 weeks ago mostly following R & P ( I used deer meat, deer liver, pork fat, dried cherries and pistachios). I lined the terrine with my bacon. It’s stored in the terrine under duck fat in the fridge. I had extra filling I had put in a loaf pan to cook, and we finished that, so I know the terrine will be good, when I unmold it this week. Obviously, I’m following this challenge and participating in my own way. Since I’ve made bacon, I’ll make pancetta soon.


    • Gerald

      I just reread my post, and it sounded arrogant to me….sorry. I have often been humbled with failure when I try advanced food techniques, but everything has been going so well with what I try lately, I find I can’t contain my enthusiasm.

  38. Diana

    This was my first challenge as i started a tad late. I felt the pressure to listen to my butcher (uncle) and used a pork cut from the rib to make more of a canadian bacon and a lean pancetta….(I was ambitious so I did both challenges) needless to say, i missed the fat!! the smells and tastes were good but there was something missing…. oh yeah, the satisfying flavor of the fat!! Next time I will agree to do no favors for my heart!

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