Well-Stocked: Pancetta at the Ready

Casey Barber

by Casey Barber on January 25, 2010

It’s back to the freezer for another edition of Well-Stocked, and this time, I promise I won’t make you blend anything—just pre-slice for wholesome, salty meatiness any time you need it.

While most of us have frozen steaks, chops, burgers, and other cuts of meat for future use, it’s a life-saver to have a stash of sliced pancetta in the coldbox too. Not just smoky bacon (which I also keep on hand), but specifically pancetta—the ingredient that makes the magic happen for dishes as diverse as the world’s greatest spaghetti carbonara (seriously, I am going to get that trademarked), roasted brussels sprouts, and even seared scallops.


Corrado’s, my local Italian supermercato, stocks these vacuum-packed cylinders of good Jersey-made pancetta. At home, I slice the rolls into 1/2-inch rounds and then stack each slice between layers of waxed paper before wrapping the whole bundle in foil to freeze. Each slice is about 2 oz. by weight, so when I need pancetta for a recipe, it’s automatically portioned.

The beauty of freezing slices of any fatty meat (pancetta, bacon, guanciale… aren’t pigs wonderful?) is that making a clean cut through the fat becomes 100 times easier when it’s not soft and slippery. All my lardons look professionally, identically sized, and I don’t have to worry about hacking through my finger as I try to secure the greasy pieces.

If you’ve been buying pancetta only for specific recipes, now’s the time to keep a little more on hand so you can try it on a regular basis. Its lush saltiness plays well with so many vegetables, but I decided to bring it out as a counterpoint to fennel’s signature sweetness in the recipe below.

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