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wannabechef

Pancetta Substitute?

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Does anyone have a non-pork suggestion as a substitute for pancetta? I have a recipe which I want to make, but my wife doesn't eat pork. It's a pasta dish which involves browning the pancetta until nice and crispy, and then using the fat in the rest of the dish. So I need some kind of meat which will accomplish a similar task. I guess I won't be able to get the exact same flavor, but I'd like to try something at least.

Any ideas?

Thanks!

~WB

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Bux   

My understanding is that the principle difference between bacon and pancetta is that pancetta is not smoked, although I've been told that some pancetta is smoked. If I were to use a veal or turkey bacon substitute, I might consider blanching it if it had a very smoky taste. I can't really offer a substitute I know would accurately replace the pancetta, but you might try corned beef that was fried to a crisp. The pancetta I buy is also a little peppery, so you might add some black pepper. The real problem is that the pork fat has a distinctive taste.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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if you're looking for something fatty with good flavor, you may want to try using chicken/duck skin if your wife eats poultry. i know that pancetta and pork products give you that wonderful fatty salty flavor, but why not? a lot of recipes call for crispy poultry skin cracklins and isn't schmaltz just chicken fat? i could be wrong on that last tidbit.

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There really isn't a substitute, taste-wise. Depsite the fact that bacon and pancetta are both fatty pork products that get crispy when rendered, they taste nothing alike. I'd go vegetarian: use olive oil for the fat and pick a salty flavorful complement for the pancetta bits (Kalamata olives; sun-dried tomatoes; maybe capers, depending on what else is in the dish.)

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I run a synagogue kitchen, so I have a great deal of experience in converting traif (non-kosher) recipes into pork-free recipes!.

For panchetta, substitute beef bacon, also marketed as smoked beef blade. I buy mine as a slab, but it is available in most places near the kosher hot dogs and sausages. You might, depending on where you are located, look for it in Muslim markets as well, as Islam prohibits consumption of pork. When you select a package, look for a fatty one, as the fat is what you need for your dish.

Anyway -- drop the required number of slices into a pan of simmering water, return to the simmer, and blanch for three mintutes. This will remove a great deal of the smokey flavor, though not all. (If you blanch it any further, you begin to render the fat, which is counter to what you want to do.)

Drain the bacon, chop, and proceed as called for in your recipe.


Aidan

"Ess! Ess! It's a mitzvah!"

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