Pork belly, skin on preferable, removed ok
2.75% kosher salt
0.25% cure #1 — or — cure #2 (see directions)
1.75% brown sugar
1.8% whole black peppercorns
0.5% red pepper flakes
0.5% juniper berries
0.25% garlic powder
0.25% thyme, dried
0.15% bay leaf, dried
Borrowed from Kyle Hildebrant at Our Daily Brine
Wash the pork belly with a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water. This reduces the amount of bacteria present on the pork.
For semi-dried pancetta (must be cooked), use cure #1 in your curing mixture.
For traditional, fully-dried pancetta (can be eaten without cooking), use cure #2 in your curing mixture.
Combine all of the cure and spice ingredients in a spice grinder and pulse until ground finely.
Coat the belly very well on all sides, rubbing the cure into the meat. Use all of the cure. Any which doesn't stick to the meat should be including when wrapped.
Wrap belly tightly, several times, in cling wrap, or vacuum seal in a bag. Place the curing meat into the refrigerator. The meat will expel water as it cures. If using plastic wrap, something to catch drippings will come in handy. Allow the meat to cure in the fridge for two weeks, flipping every couple days.
After meat has cured, remove from wrapping and rinse. Dry well.
Toast peppercorns in a pan until fragrant, but not burnt. Thoroughly coat the meaty side of the belly with cracked peppercorns. Use more than you think you should.
Roll the meaty side with peppercorns toward the middle. The fatty skin side should face out. It's important to roll and tie the pancetta as tightly as possible. If there are air gaps inside it will rot.
Tie each end with a butcher's knot, then truss the entire belly tightly.
Weight the trussed belly and record the date and weight on an attached tag.
Hang in an area with higher humidity, like over a kitchen sink, or in a basement. Temperature is ideally under 70F. Keep out of direct sunlight, as light makes fat go rancid. You can wrap pancetta in cheesecloth.
Allow to hang for at least a month for semi-dried pancetta, which should be cooked before eaten. For pancetta that is fully cured and dried, hang until 20% of the weight is lost; after which it will be safe to eat without cooking.
Traditional pancetta arrotolata is always fully dried and eaten raw, sliced very thinly like a prosciutto. It is worth the additional drying time. You will also never find a traditional arrotolata that does not have the skin left on the belly, or is not cased in some natural casing like a bung. Skin and casing promote a longer drying period, which allows the more subtle and nuanced flavours to develop. If you're patient, it's worth it. If not, pancetta without the protective skin or casings is just as worth pursuing.