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Sub for pancetta: pork loin, bacon, or kielbasa?

greygarious Jan 10, 2010 09:14 AM

I plan to make Chow's Pepper & Eggplant Sauce (http://www.chow.com/recipes/10960), which I embellish by starting with sauteeing 2-4 ounces of diced pancetta and adding mushrooms. Haven't got any and can't leave the house today. I have boneless center cut pork chops, Oscar Mayer bacon strips, and kielbasa in the freezer. I am thinking of dicing a strip or two of bacon, and half a chop. But diced kielbasa would be simpler. Any opinions on which would be preferable? This sauce uses a lot of vegetables so the sauce is hearty but doesn't really taste meaty. Without mushrooms, I think I need a bit more meat in it. I also have fish sauce, soy sauce, and anchovies. Any opinions?

  1. e
    emilief Jan 10, 2010 09:55 AM

    The closest substitue for pancetta is bacon. Kielbasa is an altogether different flavor and thepork chop would not lend any significant flavor. Go with the bacon.

    1. d
      dmd_kc Jan 10, 2010 09:58 AM

      What emilief said. Not even a close call -- the bacon is a good substitute for pancetta most of the time, especially used at the beginning like this.

      1. tommy Jan 10, 2010 10:30 AM

        since pancetta is not smoked, you might want to consider what the smokiness of bacon or kielbasa will do to the dish. not that smoke is a bad thing, but it can certainly change a dish's flavor profile.

        but more importantly, why don't you have any pancetta in the freezer!

        1. c oliver Jan 10, 2010 10:32 AM

          I substitute bacon for pancetta regularly.

          1. alanbarnes Jan 10, 2010 10:38 AM

            I agree with everybody else that bacon is the closest substitute. It'd be even closer if you blanch it for a minute or so to get rid of some of the smokiness.

            2 Replies
            1. re: alanbarnes
              Will Owen Jan 10, 2010 04:16 PM

              Yup, you need that fat, which no pork loin I've seen lately has enough of even for its usual applications. The smoky flavor is largely water-soluble so blanching it as suggested will easily get rid of most of it. Unless of course you WANT it. I got into an argument with a New England guy about using bacon in chowder; he said, "But it tastes smoky!" and I said, "Precisely!" This is called agreeing to disagree...

              1. re: Will Owen
                greygarious Jan 10, 2010 04:49 PM

                Thanks everyone. I used 3 slices of bacon, the last of a Kirkland brand package (good price but not as tasty as better name brands) for 3 qts of sauce. Because the bacon was pretty bland, I didn't bother to blanch. Other batches have been better, but I think what's missing is more the dried mushrooms than the pancetta. I added a quarter packet of dry beef-mushroom soup mix, although that added more salt than 'shroom! It's cooling on the porch in freezer containers. This is normally a very "meaty" sauce because of the shrooms and eggplant, although it is nearly meatless. I'll use it for lasagna in a few weeks, and this time may brown up some sausage to go into it then.

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