Pancetta is a versatile and flavorful ingredient that has been a staple in Italian cuisine for centuries. This cured pork belly adds depth and richness to a variety of dishes, from pasta sauces to salads, and can even be enjoyed on its own. Whether you’re a seasoned home cook or just starting to explore new ingredients, it’s important to know the best pancetta brands available on the market today.
Pancetta is a salt-cured pork belly that originates from Italy. It is similar to bacon but without the smoky flavor, as it is not smoked. The curing process typically involves salting the meat and then hanging it to dry for a couple of weeks. Its delicate yet distinct taste enhances the flavors of any dish it is added to.
There are several types of pancetta available, each with its unique flavor profile and texture. Some common varieties include:
- Arrotolata: Rolled pancetta, which is cured and seasoned with herbs and spices, then rolled into a log shape and tied.
- Tesa: Flat pancetta, which is cured and seasoned similarly to arrotolata but left flat instead of being rolled.
- Affumicata: Smoked pancetta, which undergoes an additional smoking process after curing for a more intense flavor.
Now that we have a better understanding of what pancetta is and the different types available, let’s explore the best pancetta brands on the market today.
Best Pancetta Brands for Delicious Cooking
Although not technically pancetta, guanciale is a close cousin and worth mentioning. Made from cured pork jowl instead of belly, guanciale has a more robust flavor due to its longer curing process.
Many chefs prefer guanciale over pancetta in certain dishes, such as pasta carbonara, for its rich taste. Look for authentic Italian guanciale for the best quality and flavor.
Volpi is a renowned producer of Italian cured meats, including pancetta. Their pancetta is made using traditional methods, with hand-trimming and a slow aging process that allows the flavors to develop fully. Volpi pancetta is available in both rolled and flat varieties, offering versatility for a range of recipes.
Columbus is a popular brand known for its high-quality Italian-style deli meats. Their pancetta is made from premium pork belly, seasoned with a blend of spices, and slow-aged to achieve a tender texture and rich flavor. Columbus pancetta can be found pre-sliced or in whole form, making it a convenient option for home cooks.
Wellshire is a brand committed to providing all-natural, gluten-free, and preservative-free meat products. Their pancetta is made from humanely raised pork, seasoned with a simple blend of salt and spices, and slow-aged for optimum flavor.
Wellshire’s commitment to quality ingredients and methods makes their pancetta an excellent choice for health-conscious consumers.
Citterio is an Italian company with a long history of producing high-quality cured meats. Their pancetta is made from select cuts of pork belly, seasoned with a proprietary blend of spices, and aged for several weeks to develop its signature taste. Citterio pancetta is available in both rolled and flat varieties, making it a versatile option for a variety of dishes.
La Quercia is an artisanal producer of cured meats based in the United States. They use traditional Italian methods and source their heritage breed pork from small family farms, ensuring a high level of quality and sustainability.
La Quercia’s pancetta is hand-rubbed with a blend of sea salt, sugar, and spices before being aged for an extended period. The result is a deeply flavored pancetta that can elevate any dish.
Daniele is an American brand that offers sliced pancetta in 3-ounce packages. Made from high-quality pork belly meat, this pancetta is seasoned with salt and pepper before being rolled and cured. It is ideal for adding depth to soups, pastas, and other dishes.
Beretta is an Italian brand that offers authentic pancetta made from high-quality pork belly. Their pancetta is available in various forms, including flat (pancetta tesa), rolled (pancetta arrotolata), and coppatBeretta pancetta is known for its rich, savory flavor and can be used in a variety of recipes.
DeLallo is a popular brand that offers Italian-style pancetta made from premium pork belly. Their pancetta is available in all three types – flat, rolled, and coppata – and is known for its distinct, savory taste. DeLallo pancetta is perfect for adding depth and flavor to a wide range of dishes, from pasta to risotto.
Parma Sausage Pancetta
Parma Sausage is a brand that offers authentic Italian-style pancetta made from high-quality pork belly. Their pancetta is seasoned with a blend of salt, pepper, and other spices before being rolled and cured. Parma Sausage pancetta is perfect for adding a touch of Italian flavor to your favorite dishes.
Considerations When Buying Pancetta
When selecting pancetta, consider how it has been cured. Traditional methods involve salting and air-drying the meat, while some modern producers may use chemical additives or accelerated drying processes. Opt for pancetta that has been cured using traditional methods for the best flavor and quality.
The breed of pig used to make pancetta can impact its flavor and texture. Look for brands that use heritage breeds, as these often have a richer taste and higher fat content, which results in a more tender and flavorful pancetta.
Consider where the pork used to make the pancetta comes from. Italian pancetta is often made from locally sourced pigs, while some American producers import their pork from other countries. Choosing pancetta made from locally sourced, ethically raised pigs can ensure a higher quality product with a lower environmental impact.
Flavor and Texture
Finally, consider the flavor profile and texture you prefer in your pancettSome brands offer a milder taste, while others have a more intense, robust flavor. The thickness of the slices can also affect the texture, with thinner slices providing a crispier result when cooked. Experiment with different brands and types of pancetta to find the one that best suits your preferences and culinary needs.
What are the different types of pancetta?
The different types of pancetta include pancetta arrotolata, which is rolled pancetta, and pancetta tesa, which is flat pancetta. Both types can be used in various recipes to add flavor and richness.
What is good pancetta?
Good pancetta is typically made from high-quality pork belly, seasoned with a mix of salt, pepper, and other spices, and then cured for several weeks to develop its distinct flavor and texture.
Is pancetta the same as prosciutto?
Pancetta is not the same as prosciutto, as pancetta comes from the pork belly while prosciutto is made from the hind leg of the pig. Both are Italian cured meats, but they have different flavors and textures.
Is pancetta basically bacon?
Pancetta is similar to bacon in that both come from the pork belly, but pancetta is an Italian cured meat, while bacon is typically smoked and cooked before eating. They can be used interchangeably in some recipes, but their flavors and textures do differ.
In summary, these are the seven best pancetta brands to try today for delicious cooking:
- Italian Guanciale (not technically pancetta but a close cousin)
- La Quercia
By exploring these top pancetta brands and considering factors such as curing methods, pig breed, meat origin, flavor, and texture, you can elevate your cooking and enjoy the rich flavors that pancetta has to offer.