I have always wanted to cure my own bacon so with a fresh 12 pound pork belly I decided to make it happen. I purchased my pork belly, that had been prepared only hours before, from Mills Family Farm in Mooresville, NC. It doesn’t get any fresher than that, so the thought of not braising it fresh seemed a little odd. I decided I would practice a little patience and cure the belly in three separate pieces. Two would be cured for 8 days with a combination of pink salt, spices and herbs. The other piece cured the same but then rolled into a log, tied and hung to dry for 21 days. The rolled piece, salt cured and aired dried, is what is known as pancetta or Italian bacon.Most pancetta is only salt cured and aired dried, but newer versions of the streaky, salty and slighty sweet bacon is now being lightly smoked in the style of what most of us think as “real” bacon. Finally after over a month of waiting my pancetta was ready for eating. Of course I sliced a few rings off, pan cooked it and ate it as is, but for Easter I made a pasta dish called Bucacini Alla Amatricina. The Amatricana is a bacon laden tomato based sauce that is classically used with pancetta chunks. (for this recipe visit www.cheftroy.net)However, on “Tuesdays with Troy” this past week on WCCB News Rising, I made this amazing “PLT” that the crew went absolutely nuts over. The pancetta is first slow cooked in a braising style, then crisp to perfection and made into a sandwich with lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado and a homemade sun-dried tomato aioli (mayo). Even if you don’t cure your own pancetta this sandwich will be awesome using any type of bacon.
Braised Pancetta “PLT” Sandwich with Sun-Dried Tomato Aioli
4 Each-Thick Sliced Pancetta-1/2” thick
To Taste-Black Pepper
To Brush-Olive Oil
To Taste-Sun-Dried Tomato Aioli-see recipe
4 Each-Ciabatta Roll
1 Each-Avocado-halved, seeded, sliced
1 Each-Beefsteak Tomato-four thick slices
To Taste-Red Onion-thin sliced, half moons shapes
1 Head-Frisee’ Lettuce-cored and pulled Directions1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place pancetta in oven save dish cover with cold water and seal with aluminum foil.
3. Place in oven and braise for 1 ½ to 2 hours or until tender.
4. Remove from oven, drain off water and pat dry.
5. Make aioli with recipe below and refrigerate.
6. To assemble sandwich, heat an iron skillet to medium high heat.
7. Brush braised pancetta with oil and season with black pepper.
8. Place in skillet to sear and heat through, about 2 minutes per side.
9. Remove skillet from heat leaving pancetta in pan.
10. Smear aioli on bottom half of bun, top with frisee’ and pancetta.
11. Top pancetta with tomato, avocado and onion.
12. Smear inside of top bun with mayo, top sandwich and serve.Sun-Dried Tomato Aioli
Makes about 1 Cup
1 Each-Egg Yolk-organic from free range chicken
1 Teaspoon-Dijon Mustard
1 Tablespoon-Lemon Juice
2 Tablespoons-Sun-Dried Tomatoes-packed in oil, chopped fine
¼-Sun-Dried Tomato Oil
1. In a deep heavy bottom bowl squeeze add egg yolk, mustard, lemon, salt and pepper, whisk until well combined.
2. Start dripping in the olive oil, literally a few drops at a time, while whisking to incorporate.
3. Keep whisking while very slowly adding both oil’s slowly, starting with drips.
4. Aioli/mayonnaise will begin to form, once all the oil has been incorporated stir in chopped sun-dried tomatoes.
5. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use in a container with a tight fitting lid for to 4 to 5 days.