Brown Sugar
Bay Leaves
Brussels Sprouts
Chili Peppers
Fresh Anise/Fennel

Back to Pairings

Back to Pairings

Candied Pancetta and Dried White Figs


I love figs, and I love pancetta even more, so why not candy them together?  With the last batch of pancetta coming out of the aging box, I was ready to play and experiment!

Candied Pancetta and White Figs

8oz  Pancetta

8ea  Dried White Sierra Figs

1.5ea  Shallot

1T  Palm Sugar

1/4C  Sherry Wine

1/4C  Sherry Vinegar

  • Begin by small dicing the pancetta, and slicing the figs into disc.

Sliced dried white figs.

  • Place the pancetta in a pot over low heat and render.
  • Brunoise the shallot and once the pancetta begins to color, add it to the pan.
  • Once the shallot has started to brown and the pancetta is crispy turn the heat to low.

  • Add the figs and palm sugar, stir until the sugar has dissolved

Palm sugar, similar color to brown sugar but wetter and it has a slight fruit and molasses flavor.

Sugar has dissolved

  • Add the sherry wine and reduce by half
  • Add the sherry vinegar and cook until it is at the desired acidity.

This has become one of my favorite condiments that can be used in a lot of dishes from pork to duck.  Most recently I paired it with a foie gras torchon.


Pancetta is one of my favorite cured muscles, mostly because it is very similar to bacon. Pancetta is made with heavy, earthy spices such as juniper and black pepper, but is not limited to using only those. My favorite attribute to a good pancetta is its fermented flavor. It isn’t strong in a good quality pancetta but it adds a great flavor. The process can take up to 3 months with curing and air drying. I found it difficult in the beginning to roll the pancetta tight enough to remove the air so my first few batches were a flat Venetian style pancetta. It is very important that when you do a rolled pancetta, that you roll it tight and tie it properly or the meat will rot from the inside out.

This recipe comes from the book Ruhlman, Michael and Polcyn, Brian. Charcuterie, which I use as a reference to curing all meats.


4ea Garlic Cloves

2t Pink Salt

2oz Kosher Salt

2T Dark Brown Sugar

4T Coarse Black Pepper

2T Crushed Juniper Berries

4ea Bay Leaves

1t Nutmeg

4sprigs Thyme

5# Pork Belly

  • Combine your sugar, salt, and pink salt
  • Combine all of your spices (only half of the black pepper) and grind them in a blender
  • I usually buy skin on pork belly, if this is what you have then remove it.

Start by shaving the skin up from one corner then cut an X in it. This will create a spot to put your finger so you can pull the skin taught as you cut it off.

Shave the skin off trying not to remove too much meat.

  • Mix the spices with the curing salt mix and liberally apply to the pork belly
  • Wrap the pork tightly with plastic and place it into a pan.
  • Place another pan on top of the pork and place weights on that. Cure in the fridge for 7 days, flipping the pork over everyday.
  • After your 7 days are up, remove the pork from the plastic and rinse thoroughly. Pat the pork dry with paper towels and let sit in a drafty area for 30 minutes to an hour to allow the pork to get slightly tacky and to make it easier to roll.
  • Once it has warmed up, lay the pork out like a sideways book, it should be longer vertically. Begin rolling by grabbing the portion of the pork that is furthest from you. As you roll, press on the pork to ensure it is very tight.
  • Once rolled, you will need to tie the pork very tightly to ensure that there is no room for air in the middle. You can read about tying roast and pancetta here. Always start the tying from the middle and work your way out to force any air or gaps outwards.
  • Once tied, wrap the pork with a double layer of cheesecloth and tie both ends leaving a loop in one to hang it from.

  • The great thing about pancetta is that you don’t need a larder to cure this. The ideal temperature for “aging” the pancetta is 50°F-55°F with about 60% humidity. A normal fridge will work but it may take a little longer to dry. This drying process takes anywhere from two weeks to three months, but you will know when it is done because it will be firmer than when you put it in the fridge.

This is the excel spread sheet that I made to calculate the loss of moisture in the meat over 2.5 months. After weighing the product each week I will be able to see how much liquid it lost in a weeks time. The 1 and 2 are for each of the samples.

Home Cured Bacon

I feel that bacon has become a fad…Everywhere! I don’t really know how I feel about it, I am still trying to figure it out, like how are sunglasses from the 80’s coming back into fashion, and neon…? Bacon seems to be coming up in everything that we make, and honestly I like mine sliced thick and cooked in a hot skillet to get it nice and crispy on the outside. I will admit that I do make a jam with bacon and apples for my pork dish but the reality of it is, it tastes like salt and smoke. the fat can definitely pick up some great flavors, but again the most prominent flavor is the smoke. I have mimicked the flavor before by smoking cherry tomatoes, and lettuces, I know smoked lettuce sounds weird, but more creative than throwing bacon on it. To show my own personal love for bacon, here is how I make my savory style bacon, that will leave your mouth-watering for more every time.

I have had a little feedback on curing bacon with sodium nitrite and I feel that some people may not have all of the information. With the hundreds of pounds of bacon that I have made, pink salt (curing salt) is a necessary ingredient during the curing process. Not only does it prevent botulism, but the pork belly seems less salty when I did a side by side test. The fact is, you need the nitrites in the pork to help the curing process, even bacon that says “all natural” contains these nitrites, how? A mixture of celery seed or extract with salt creates nitrites, they are able to call it all natural because you are not using a processed sodium nitrite. After the whole curing process the amount of nitrites left are very minimal, after the cooking process it is even smaller. Nitrites are found in a variety of vegetables including, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, parsley, and turnips. Some vegetables have shown to contain 2500mg of nitrites such as spinach, cured meats, on average contain 10-20mg. Most research on negative effects of nitrites on humans predates discovery of nitric oxide’s importance to human metabolism and human endogenous metabolism of nitrite. It takes 71mg of sodium nitrite for it to be fatal to humans, the nitrate found in salami’s is as compound itself is not harmful, and is among the antioxidants found in fresh vegetables.

Savory Bacon

The Cure

1# Kosher Salt

8oz White Sugar

2oz Pink Curing Salt (AKA Curing Salt #1)

The Rest of the Bacon

~3# Pork Belly (I prefer skin on, its cheaper and easy to remove after the bacon has cooked)

2ea Shallots

4ea Garlic Cloves

4sprigs Rosemary

Pink Salt, DO NOT EVER EAT OR SEASON FOOD WITH IT! Red dye is added to ensure that it is not confused for sugar or salt in commercial and home kitchens. Always store separately from your sugars and salts.

  • Start by combining all of the ingredients for the cure and mixing well.
  • Slice the shallots, smash the garlic with your knife and have the herbs rinsed and ready to use.
  • Sprinkle the pork liberally with the curing salt mix on both sides. Be sure to rub the cure on the sides of the meat as well. Store the leftover cure in a tightly sealed container and away from other ingredients in the kitchen.

  • Next lay out a sheet of plastic large enough to wrap the belly with and place 3/4 of the shallot, herbs, and garlic. Lift the belly and place the flesh side down on the herbs.
  • Place the remaining ingredients on the skin side of the pork belly, sprinkle with a little more cure, and wrap the whole thing with plastic.

  • Place the belly in a pan large enough to hold it and place another pan on top with some weight in it. I use large cans.
  • Let this bacon sit in your refrigerator for three days.
  • After three days rinse and pat dry with towels put the pork back into the fridge uncovered for 12-24 hours. This will form the pellicle.

Pork belly with a pellicle, hard to see the pellicle but by touching it it should feel tacky.

  • The next day put your pork into the smoker, I use one made by Alto-Shaam, it is a commercial smoker that heats as well. The heat is fairly moist which is fine for this application but I would prefer it to be a little dryer.

  • Smoke and cook your bacon at 250°F until the internal temp reaches 150°F, this should take about 2 hours.  Once the bacon is at temp slice a piece off, because I know it will be irresistible like bread right out of the oven, and enjoy it.

Smoked and sliced bacon, this pig was a little large, most bellies are less than an inch and a half thick, this one was almost 3 inches!

  • Once cooled slice the bacon and sear it in a hot pan.

I like to use thin French style cast iron sautee pans because they get hot quick, and once you start cooking they stay hot.

I would not recommend eating this bacon "extra crispy" it gets a little tough when over cooked.