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What is it?

Pancetta, the Italian version of bacon, is made by seasoning a pork belly side with salt and lots of pepper, curling it into a tight roll, and wrapping it in a casing to hold the shape. It differs from bacon in that it is cured, but it isn’t smoked.

Don’t have it?

You can substitute bacon (though it will add a smoky flavor, too). To lessen the smokiness, blanch the bacon before using it.

How to choose:

Pancetta used to be sold only at Italian markets, but it’s now available at most supermarkets, usually sliced to order at the deli.

How to prep:

Pancetta should be cooked before eating. It is often sold sliced to order. For easier chopping and dicing, freeze it briefly and use a sharp knife.

How to store:

Keep pancetta refrigerated where it will last for a few weeks. Unused pancetta freezes well; wrap a few slices together in individual packets so it’s easy to thaw only the amount you need.

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