Pancetta Galore: a man’s epic through a porks belly and its uses

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Original poster
Sep 20, 2021
Hello! dear compatriots of all things succulent, I come to you again with a second post (first in this section) detailing the perils and inquiries that having too much pork belly and too little respect for traditional recipes produces.

As it stands, this week I have cooked two Japanese (with a twist) style chashus. Chashu calls for simple ingredients and patient cooking. The results, as can be seen in the beautiful ramen it decorates, were proper, yet I found myself not satisfied. I think I can elevate the flavours of chashu even more by incorporating some methods of charcuterie and smoking.

The recipe calls for pork belly, rolled onto itself, braised in a sweet and savory concoction of green onions (japanese negui), garlic, ginger root, sake, mirin, sugar and soy sauce. After many hours of gentle cooking, the pork belly will be transmuted into a decadent, moist and tender cut that would melt in your mouth and could be cut with a chopstick if not careful.

The methodology I employed to achieve such beautiful results (and beleive me, achieve them I did) with minimal chances of error was simple: Sous vide.

36 hours at a measly 61º C.

Flavor wise it came out as intended: soft, moist with a hint of non-invasive sweetness and very present aromatics and finally a melt in your mouth fatty texture that was not too complex.

But I think it can be pushed further and more complexity can be achieved through the use of cure salt, wet brine and propper post-cooking smoking, to do so, I need to fact check brine my technique and my wood selection with you, who are much more knowledgable in such matters than I.

So then, the process of this chashu would become: wet brine + sous vide braising + smoking (like I did with the pastrami)

here come the inquiries!

how much time should I leave it in the brine?

I’m thinking 4 to 6 days Would be an optimal 1st try, with a second piece left another 4 to 6 days to ensure I can see proper returns on such a long time.

What salt to water, curing salt to water and brine to meat weigh should I follow?
I am completely ignorant on the finer workings of brine chemistry and this particular kind of food safety but I’m willing to educate myself if you direct me to reliable sources.

What brine condiments would compliment the further cooking processes?

Given the eastern roots of the dish, I was thinking:
  • ginger powder
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • sichuan pepper
  • fennel and coriander seeds
  • bayleaves
  • black vinegar (?)
  • kombu seaweed
  • dried shitake
  • dried tomates
  • soy sauce (?)
  • Sugar

What cooking times would you recommend I use during sous vide and what woods should I use to finish the brining process in the Kamado with, and for how long?
I went 36 hrs @ 61º, but I think 16 hrs @ 71 is a better option and wont affect moistness much.
the smoking on the kamado, i would do with the remaining brine liquids on a dutch oven, but the possibility of it drying out exists, so I must operate carefully.

Then, there is another matter:
As a relative’s birthday looms over me, there is the matter of a promise made: I’ve promised my mother Porchetta for her birthday, and I intend on delivering a dish that will have her questioning the meaning of delicious for the months to come.

the brine questions for the chashu stand too for the porchetta: What salt to water, curing salt to water and brine to meat weigh should I follow and, what condiments should you recommend?
This time the brine condiments will be a bit more dashing and risqué.
  • Sugar
  • Fennel springs
  • a whole fennel
  • garlic and onion powder
  • Black peppercorns
  • coriander, fennel and mustard seeds
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 oranges
  • .5 liter orange juice
  • .5 liter lemon juice
  • bayleaves and dried thyme
  • .5 liters sweet white wine

Since I will be adding juice that replaces water, how should I handle that in relation to the curing salt and salt to water ratio; furthermore, how would the sugar:salt ratio should be distributed to avoid harmful bacteria?

Prochetta calls for it to be rolled onto itself and its insides painted and smeared with herbs and paté and for that I thought I would make an artichoke and fennel, lemon and orange patte, but that is an idea in development. After brining, the porchetta will be rolled onto itself with the patte smeared and cooked in a braise of white wine fennel and orange and lemon skin trimmings. finally after the cooking process is finished, I will deep fry it to make the skin crispy and finally smoke it in the kamado.

What cooking times would you recommend I use during sous vide and what woods should I use to finish the brining process in the Kamado with, and for how long?
I was thinking going for 8 hours at 80ºc sous vide and olive wood chips with 3 hours @ 100ºc

thank you in advance for dropping by, your opinion is always much appreciated!


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Reactions: kilo charlie
Excellent looking Ramen Bowls ... My first time making Chashu was a heck of a fun time! Great write up!
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