HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Pancetta substitutions for new non-pork eater

I'm giving up pork in baby steps towards becoming kosher, and am wondering what I might use in place of pancetta/bacon in my soups/stews to give them some meaty depth. I bought some turkey bacon to try. What else might work?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. mushrooms, dried especially.

    1. Ordinarily, in a pinch, I'd substitute Prosciutto for Panchetta. But you're looking for something that isn't pork. That's a challenge. Smoked turkey, browned to improve both its flavor and its texture in a soup or stew, is worth a try.

      1 Reply
      1. re: todao

        Duck prosciutto from D'Artagnan. Also duck bacon.

      2. Don't think of "replacing" the pork products - nothing tastes like pork, and imitations (like turkey bacon) will just make you pine for the original. (Or worse, become one of those people who insists that turkey bacon tastes "just like bacon." No, it doesn't. You may like it, fine, but it tastes like a pale imitation of real bacon.)

        Instead go for new flavors that carry that meaty depth you're looking for. Mushrooms are a good idea, but they have their own fairly strong flavor so they may change the overall flavor profile too much in some recipes. Soy sauce is a secret ingredient in a lot of vegetarian recipes because it has so much umami, as does worcestershire sauce (though it's not vegetarian), and both can be used in amounts that add meatiness without other readily identifiable flavors. Smoked salt can help bring that bacony flavor as well. You could also look to other smoked meats, like barbequed brisket or beef/chicken sausages.

        Good luck!

        1. Turkey bacon is worth a shot. For soups, also consider making a stock from smoked turkey legs or necks. In the U.S., many markets have these available as a substitute for ham hocks.

          Of course, it's not the same as pancetta (which is non-smokey), but it could be a "different but good" option.

            1. Anchovies added with the onions or oil early on give a nice savory undercurrent to many dishes.

              1. Not for soups/stews, but if you're ever pining for pasta carbonnara, I substitute smoked salmon for the traditional pancetta. Chop smoked salmon and pan saute until it reaches a chewy but not quite crispy stage, remove from pan and saute onion and garlic. Add SS back to the pan, and add cooked pasta. Toss in a few beaten eggs and cook, tossing constantly, until eggs are just cooked. Throw in some good quality parmesan and enjoy!

                1 Reply
                1. re: CocoTO

                  Maybe air dried beef, Bresaola, would be an acceptable sub in some dishes

                2. The tiniest amount of Liquid Smoke imparts a smoky flavor, but a little goes a long way--I'd add it only drop by drop, even to a big pot of meat and vegetables. I understand it is simply water that wood smoke has been blown/bubbled through.