As a person who is trying to broaden my food experiences, I have recently found myself uttering the question, "what is pancetta?" I've heard many people talk about it and how great it is, but I could never get off my regular bacon kick. Since I'm feeling adventurous, I decided it's time to figure out what pancetta is, and what it taste like.

What is Pancetta?

Pancetta, otherwise known as Italian bacon, is cured pork belly. According to Cook Think, the meat is unsmoked and cured in salts, spices, peppers, and other ingredients. After being cured, pancetta is usually dried for several months. The meat is bought raw, and needs to be cooked, depending on how long it has been cured.

Cook Think states, "outside of Italy, pancetta most often comes rolled so that the fat and muscle spiral around each other," and is cut into "circular paper-thin slices." Additionally, pancetta is "also made as a slab so that the fat is mostly on one side," and is "chopped or diced before being added to a dish." 

What Does Pancetta Taste Like?

Pancetta tastes similar to bacon, however does not have the smokey flavor that most bacon has. Because it lacks the smokey flavor it's not entirely overpowering and it's great for mixing in with other foods.

Pancetta is usually served thinly sliced, similar to bacon, and can be cubed. The thin slices can be cooked a variety of ways, mostly "wrapped around vegetables or meat before cooking," while the cubes "are often used like bacon, sautéed with onions or garlic to form the base of soup, pasta, or risotto," according to the Kitchn.

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Jocelyn Hsu

There are many options to explore in the food world and pancetta can be a good start. Next time you're feeling like eating bacon, try reaching for the pancetta instead. You'll have your guests asking, "what is pancetta?" during the next meal you prepare and you'll have all the answers.