An Italian type of bacon produced from belly of pork which is seasoned, then rolled up like a salami and dry cured. Flat slabs of pancetta are also available and this is normally how you’d find it in Italy. It can be bought here pre-packed and either in cubes (cubetti di pancetta) or slices, the latter often smoked. Thinly sliced, unsmoked, streaky bacon rashers will make a suitable substitute if you can’t get pancetta.
The cubes are fried and used in soffrito (the Italian version of a mirepoix) to give a base flavour to all kinds of dishes or incorporated in pasta dishes such as spaghetti carbonara. It has a delicious sweet-spicy taste. Sliced pancetta can be served as part of a selection of cold meats, or grilled until crisp and then crumbled over pasta, rice, salads and soups. Wrap pieces of fish, chicken or meat in slices of pancetta and oven-bake them, or use it as a pizza topping.
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