Marks and Spencer
Whilst pancetta is widely available in all the supermarkets, it is becoming more and more difficult to detect the difference between it and smoked streaky bacon. Both the rashers and diced pieces look almost identical. (I even found I had bought a packet of pancetta instead of streaky bacon on a recent rushed shopping trip – so similar were the packs in appearance.) This is not necessarily surprising since they are both made from curing pork belly meat.
However in Italy in every butcher’s shop, you can find a different kind of pancetta – a traditional artisan unsmoked pancetta. Here the belly is salt cured and spiced with black pepper and other ingredients such as garlic, fennel or nutmeg, then rolled (arrotolata). In fact each butcher will have his own recipe. So good is it that it is often eaten raw as an antipasto or in a panino.
So imagine my delight to find an artisan pancetta in M&S. This comes sliced in rounds from an Italian company Salumi Benvenuti based in Lucca. The company was founded back in the 1950s by two partners who were running a butcher's and grocery shop there. It is still run by members of the same family, who maintain the same traditions, with their own recipe for pancetta and a five month maturation process. This, as the pack informs you, “results in the most deliciously delicate, sweet scented pancetta that simply melts in the mouth”. And I agree.
A different kind of pancetta
M&S Artisan Charcuterie range
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Availability and price as at 31st March 2018