Homemade Lamb or Goat Pancetta
Pancetta, that wonderful dry-cured Italian style bacon, makes just about anything taste better. We’ll let you in on a little secret though: just because stores have probably never heard of lamb or goat pancetta doesn’t mean it isn’t a thing. It’s a delicious thing, easy to make at home, and dying to be added to a slow-cooked pot of tomato sauce, or anywhere else you’d use regular pancetta.
Chef Bergo developed this recipe for us, and, if you’ve ever wondered about curing meat at home, especially if you thought it would be a little too much hassle, or too large of a learning curve, you’ll want to read on. Since it’s cured from a whole muscle, pancetta is one of the easiest things to cure at home, and, unlike something like, sausage, it doesn’t require any special equipment, casings, or half a day of work. And, unlike larger, whole-muscle cures like prosciutto, your pancetta will be ready to use in around 10 days. That’s it.
All you need is a few pantry staples like dried herbs, a little salt, some really good lamb or goat belly, and some pink salt (sodium nitrite) a little time, and a little extra fridge space.
The only real difference between lamb or goat pancetta and pancetta made from pork is that lamb or goat pancetta needs to be cooked for an hour or two to be tender, and there’s a few different ways you can do it. The easiest, is probably to render some down, and then use it as a flavoring for a simple tomato sauce, a pot of beans, or any other place where slow-cooked, salted meat would be welcome. If you want to add it to a dish like you would regular pork pancetta, you’ll want to check out chef’s recommendation for slow cooking the pancetta in the recipe below.
Chef suggests using lamb or goat loin for the most tender scallopini, but you could also buy a boneless leg and keep the remaining meat for a roast or stew. Ground meat made into patties can also be a good substitute, especially if you don’t have a meat mallet–just make the patties a little thinner than you would a burger.
This recipe is by chef Alan Bergo. A chef from Minnesota, Alan is a culinary industry veteran, former executive chef of acclaimed Lucia’s Restaurant, and the Salt Cellar. Founder of the website Forager Chef, he’s best known as a respected authority on Midwestern foraging. Learn more about Alan and his hunt for mushrooms, wild and obscure foods at Forager Chef.
Shepherd Song Farm: Grass to table. We raise lambs & goats traditionally, humanely and sustainably. 100% Grass Fed, Pasture Raised, Never Confined, no Hormones, Grains or Animal Byproducts. Born, raised and processed in the U.S.A. Good for you and good for the environment.
Lamb or Goat Pancetta
- Butchers twine, vacuum bags (optional)
- 2 lbs lamb or goat belly boneless rib meat, or fat caps (roughly 2 bellies)
- 3/4 ounce 20 grams kosher salt or fine salt
- 4 grams or ½ tablespoon whole peppercorns
- 4 grams fresh rosemary chopped fine, or 1 gram dried rosemary
- 2 grams or 1 teaspoon whole coriander seed
- 2 grams or 1 teaspoon dried fennel
- .5 grams or roughly 3 dried bay leaves
- 3 grams pink salt or 1 scant teaspoon Sodium Nitrite available from butcherpacker.com
- Pound the belly with a mallet to even it out into a flat shape that will be easy to roll up. Grind the dried spices and herbs with the salts. Rub the mixture all over the meat, then refrigerate for 5 days, turning ever day, or as often as you can remember.
- After 5 days, tie the pancetta, then hang to dry in a fridge or place with similar temperature for 3-5 days to remove some water weight. If no open-air place is available to hang the pancetta, you can set up dowels or something similar in your fridge on a cookie sheet, turning the pancetta every day or as often as you can remember.
- After drying, cut the pancetta into usable portions and vacuum seal, then freeze. It will keep in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped, for a month or more.
If you want to use it in something that isn't long-cooked, like a quick pasta sauce, consider vacuum sealing and poaching at 150 for 3 hours with a sous vide cooker, or roasting with a little water, covered, at 250 for 3 hours until tender.