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Jun 3, 2012 08:50 AM

Pancetta questions

I bought some Boar's Head pancetta from the deli at Publix yesterday to make PLTs.

First question; the attendant offered me the first slice off the machine as a sample. I passed on it. While I doubt eating a piece of raw pancetta would equal instant death it just doesn't sound appetizing to me. He seemed shocked when I told it was just a different kind of bacon and was raw.

Safe to eat or not and should Publix be offering it to customers to try raw?

Second question, does pancetta normally have the plastic casing on it or should the attendant peel it off before slicing? It was a PITA to peel off after it was sliced. He never did really get it as thick as I wanted.

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  1. Hopefully will get more response now that I have corrected the title. "WTF is Panetta"? : )

    3 Replies
    1. re: kengk

      While pancetta is referred to as Italian bacon, that's not really right. Bacon is pork belly which has been brined and smoked. Pancetta is pork belly that is cured and air dried. There are variations obviously. Pancetta is uncooked but the curing process makes it different than bacon. Lots of dried uncooked meats out there. Not going to kill you if you eat it raw. In fact it can be served that way in thin slices. I rarely see it cooked up in strips like bacon. More likely to see it cubed and rendered then used in dishes like a good frisée salad or carbonara if it's cooked.

      Btw, Panetta was the former secretary of defense. ;)

      1. re: Bkeats

        The thing is that I make sandwich bread every week in bun form just because they are easier for me to store and portion than big loaves. We use them for everything from PB&J to hamburgers.

        It occurred to me that the round "bacon" on the round breads would make a great "P" LT sandwich. It did make a very nice sandwich even with the crappy tomatoes we had. Will try again when I have good tomatoes in the garden to determine how I like it compared to regular bacon.

        1. re: Bkeats

          "I rarely see it cooked up in strips like bacon."

          Me neither, but in the US, it's almost impossible to find pancetta that isn't rolled up into rounds. in Italy, you can also get pancetta in straight slabs like bacon.

      2. Pancetta is not eaten raw. Publix employees should not be asking customers to taste the raw product and I would imagine that the management would like to know that that is happening. They have no idea if the person has immune system problems or other health concerns and the liability is not something the store would want to risk.
        The plastic should be removed before slicing.

        5 Replies
        1. re: chefj

          Pancetta is most certainly eaten "raw." At least the real, high end stuff is. It is salt and air cured, like prosciutto. Not sure what Boars Head pancetta is like. Is it more of a cold cut/ deli meat?

          1. re: ttoommyy

            I'm sure folks in Italy produce a finer pancetta than the Boar's Head brand on offer at Publix. That said, I find it quite tasty. We normally buy it in a half inch thick slice to cube and add to other dishes like spaghetti carbonara.

            It appears to me to be a little drier than normal American bacon but not to the extent that prosciutto is. With the caveat that the prosciutto I'm familiar with is ordinary American grocery store stuff. Going have to order me up some of that Gucci charcuterie one of these days. It's a two hour round trip to a Publix to buy this. Locally we have Hormel Bologna.

            1. re: ttoommyy

              I stand corrected. It is eaten raw I have just never seen served that way round here. It seems that most of the local Pancetta is very lightly dried and the texture (soft and flabby) is not very appealing to me.

              1. re: chefj

                If you have the " good stuff" and it is sliced very thin, it is delicious!

              2. re: ttoommyy

                Yeah, I have to assume Boar's Head isn't selling a pork product from the deli case that is unsafe to be eaten raw.

            2. Never had it raw. not sure I want to. When I do buy it, I get the VERY thin sliced vacuum pack pancetta. Lately I've been putting the rounds in a non-stick pan and just leaving them there to crisp up. they're thin enough where I don't turn them over. I take the crisp rounds and use them as bacon on a PLT or egg sandwich.

              1. In Italy it is certainly eaten straight off the slab, preferably on a slice of warm focaccia. Never have seen it anywhere near plastic.

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