Prosciutto, Pancetta and Bacon – what’s the difference? I’ve been asked several times so I thought I’d share a quick little post of the differences. We know they’re all pork products, that much they have in common. But what are their differences and can you substitute one for another?
The most loved in this country is of course bacon. Bacon is typically made from the pork belly, it’s cured then it’s smoked. In the US and Canada it’s cold-smoked which means it is sold raw. In my country, Australia, it is sold cooked but still needs to be cooked to render the fat and make the strips crispy. Bacon of course is good on or in just about anything: stuffing, sandwiches, fried rice, wrapping, in salads, soups, on its own. And it transcends all meals of the day – even dessert. Here’s a recipe for Roasted Sweet Potato, Jammy Onion & Bacon Tart.
Pancetta, pork belly, is sold thinly sliced and diced. I can’t find the thinly sliced around where I live but it looks like a pork belly that’s been rolled and sliced. Pancetta, like bacon is sold raw so it also needs to be cooked before consuming. It’s cured only, usually with salt and sometimes with aromatics such as herbs. Use the diced pancetta for rice, pasta, stuffings and such. And the slices are good for wrapping chicken, veggies and such, plus they can be put into muffins tins and cooked with some eggs and they form cups. Unlike bacon, pancetta is not smoked, only cured. Here’s a recipe for Pea Pesto and Pancetta Pasta.
Prosciutto is from the hind leg – the ham, and it’s cured and hung to dry. This can take from a few months to a few years – the length of drying time generally determines the quality. Prosciutto is thinly sliced and not cooked. I do sometimes cook it though but mainly for texture than anything. It really is best served in its ‘raw’ state. Here’s a simple but lovely recipe for Melon and Prosciutto with Fig Vinaigrette.
Here’s a very quick recap: Bacon – from the pork belly – cured and smoked – needs to be cooked. Pancetta – also from the belly – cured – needs to be cooked. Prosciutto – hind leg (ham) – cured – doesn’t get cooked. So which one is your favorite? Until next time, Lovoni xo