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Jan 10, 2010 09:14 AM

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

I plan to make Chow's Pepper & Eggplant Sauce (, 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?

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  1. 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. 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. 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. I substitute bacon for pancetta regularly.

          1. 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

              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

                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.