An Italian specialty, pancetta is made from pork belly that is spiced, salted, and cured (not smoked) for about 3 months. It is quite similar to bacon, which gives rise to the name « Italian bacon »,often used in the US. It is sold in stores either in very thin slices or in cubes, similar to lardons.
The most prestigious pancetta is safeguarded by Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status, for example Pancetta Piacentina and Pancetta di Calabria. This is an indication of quality to take into account.
Pancetta is very finely sliced or diced, depending on its use.
In slices, it can be fried in a dry pan for 1 to 2 minutes on each side. It can also be used in a tart of pizza, or eaten raw, because it is salted and dry-cured.
Pancetta is used to make different dishes, such as soups, sauces, and risotto. There is no doubt that it is most famous being an ingredient of carbonara sauce. While pork belly lardons are used in France, the authentic recipe calls for diced pancetta or guanciale (Roman cured meat product made from pork cheek or jowl).
Take note of the expiration date. As a general rule, pancetta can be stored in the refrigerator for three weeks if well wrapped. It can also be frozed.
Pancetta is high in fat and calories. It has 342 cal (kcal) per 100 g.