Italian cuisine has a huge fan base all over the world. So, when we talk about Italian food, how can we forget meat? My favorite is pancetta. But I have, and I am sure you too have been in situations where you are all out of it! For that, I have the best pancetta substitutes!
Pancetta might not be too common a meat cut everywhere. However, for those who love it, it is almost irreplaceable. So, if you usually do stock up pancetta but have run out this one time, this article is a great guide to find the best pancetta substitutes.
I have told you so much about this article having the best substitutes for pancetta. But what are they? The best pancetta substitutes are bacon, prosciutto, salami, smoked ham, smoked turkey, pork belly, porcini mushrooms and vegan salami. (Yes, I am serious!)
Although, I may be getting a little ahead of myself here. I know not everyone reading this article knows all about Italian meat. So, to make it easier for everyone to pick their favorite substitute, let me introduce pancetta to all of you in the next section.
Quick Peek: Pancetta
In this section, you will find a great deal of information about pancetta. You will get to know what it exactly is, how it tastes and its texture, and where all it is used. Moreover, you will also get information about its nutritional value.
What Is Pancetta?
Although it is confused quite a lot of times with bacon, pancetta is actually a different type of meat, also coming from pork. Pancetta is a salt-cured pork belly salumi. Salamis is an Italian cured meat product usually made from pork.
Pancetta comes in two types: arrotolata, which is rolled and stesa, which is flat. The rolled type is more popular in Northern Italy, whereas the flat type is mostly used in central and southern Italy. Both these types are used in different ways.
Most types of pancetta are salt-cured and dried, but there is one type called pancetta affumicata which is salt-cured and smoked, similar to Bacon. Pork belly is used to make pancetta which is salted in brine and then rolled.
Difference Between Pancetta And Bacon
Pancetta and bacon are often confused with each other. Both these meats do have a lot of similarities, so it can get confusing for many. However, there are a few basic differences between the two and let me tell you about those to make it easier.
Both pancetta and bacon come from the same area, which is the belly of the pork. Both these meats are salted and kept in brine. However, there is a significant difference after that. While the pancetta is dried after bringing, bacon is usually smoked and then dried.
Describing Pancetta: Flavor And Texture
Pancetta is usually rolled into a cylinder and then either cut into thin slices or thick cubes. It has a silky texture, quite similar to that of various other cuts of meat. Pancetta is light pink in color.
Talking about the flavor of pancetta, it can be best described as a strong flavor of pork. It actually tastes quite similar to bacon. However, the one thing you will find missing in pancetta is the smoky flavor that bacon has.
Uses Of Pancetta
As pancetta is an Italian cured meat, it is predominantly used in Italian cooking. However, lately, the uses of pancetta have increased and spread across various parts of the world. In Italian food, it is often added to various dishes to bring depth.
Pancetta is a common addition to soups and pasta. Other than that, it is also a very commonly used pizza topping. Pancetta can be added to sandwiches, burgers, and wraps. You can also use pancetta as a side along with your eggs for breakfast.
Other than that, since pancetta is a cured meat, you can also eat it raw. Basically, pancetta can be used in any recipe the same way that bacon is used. Cooking pancetta works the same way as bacon, where you cook the slices on a pan, rendering the fat.
Pancetta On The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope
Pancetta, being a cut from the belly of pork, is very high in fat content and, in general, high in calories too. To explain the nutritional values of pancetta, let me take 1 oz or 28 grams as the standard measurement.
Pancetta has 147 calories, out of which 135 are from fat. It contains a very high amount of saturated fat, along with cholesterol too. It has no carbohydrates, dietary fibers, or sugar. Other than that, it has minute amounts of protein, iron, sodium, and potassium.
As pancetta is not a very healthy cut of meat, it should be eaten in moderation by everyone. This goes especially for people that have issues with obesity, cardiovascular problems, and also people who have a high level of cholesterol.
Why Use A Substitute For Pancetta?
Pancetta is a great cut of meat to use and is extremely flavorful. It is almost irreplaceable for certain people. So, why would anyone want to use a substitute for this meat? I can give you a few reasons why you can consider using a substitute.
Pancetta is very high in calories and fat content. As the nutritional values of pancetta are more inclined toward it being unhealthy, a lot of people may want to avoid eating it altogether. Especially people who have certain health conditions or are trying to watch their weight.
For this, there are a lot of substitutes for pancetta that are equally tasty but are also relatively healthy. These substitutes will work perfectly fine in place of pancetta. Moreover, pancetta is not as readily available as many of the substitutes mentioned in this article.
To buy pancetta, you might have to visit a butcher or an Italian delicatessen as there are high chances that it won’t be as easily available at various supermarkets. So, if you want to avoid this trouble, you can use a substitute that is present in every store.
Lastly, in case you are just all out of pancetta, you can save some time by using a substitute that will already be present in your pantry. Why go through the trouble of going to a store when many of the substitutes are probably already in your refrigerator!
I believe that at this point, I may have given you enough information about pancetta. So, now that you know so much about it already, let me directly tell you about the best substitutes you can use in place of pancetta.
8 Best Pancetta Substitutes
In this section, you will get to know about the best substitutes you can use in place of pancetta. Not only that, you will understand what recipes these substitutes work best in and also their ratios of substitution. So, let us explore!
Bacon comes from the same part of the pig as pancetta does. Both meats are salt and cured and have a very similar fat content. So, bacon can be used in place of pancetta in a wide variety of recipes.
As there are a lot of similarities between bacon and pancetta, the two are interchangeable in most recipes. The one difference that you may find is that as bacon is smoked after it is cured, it will have a smoky flavor compared to pancetta.
However, other than that, there is barely any difference. The applications of these two cuts of meat are also very similar. Bacon, however, cannot be eaten raw and must be cooked before consumption. You can do a direct swap while using bacon as a substitute.
Prosciutto is another form of Italian meat that comes from pigs. It comes from ham and is dry-cured, usually served in thin slices. It has a delicate flavor which is sweet and salty and works well in place of pancetta.
As prosciutto is also cured, it can be eaten both raw and cooked. Prosciutto makes a great addition to charcuterie boards and can be added to various recipes such as salads, sandwiches, pastas, pizzas, sauces and many more.
Moreover, a great advantage of using prosciutto is that it is much lower in calories and has a lower fat content than pancetta. So, if you are looking for something that tastes similar to pancetta but is healthier, prosciutto is a great option.
Salami is a cured sausage usually made with pork. It consists of meat that is fermented and air-dried to increase the shelf life. Salami is easily available everywhere and can work well as a substitute for pancetta.
Salami is usually made with pork, but now there are many variations of salami available in the market. These are made with beef, veal, or even chicken! So, you can pick which one you like best, in case you don’t like pork too much.
Salami will also work well in most recipes that use pancetta. Moreover, salami is also usually ready to eat. However, salami is also very high in fat content. So, do remember this while making the swap if you are looking for something leaner.
4. Smoked Ham
Smoked ham is made with, you guessed it, pork. Moreover, smoked ham is also pre-cooked and has a predominant flavor of pork, making it a good substitute for pancetta in various recipes.
Smoked ham is an affordable alternative for pancetta that is readily available almost everywhere. You can buy an entire piece of smoked ham and cut it yourself or use pre-cut slices in your recipes.
Smoked ham will work well in sandwiches, pastas, pizzas, salads, and everything in between. Moreover, smoked ham is higher in protein and lower in fat than pancetta, making it a good option for calorie watchers.
5. Smoked Turkey
Smoked turkey has a savory and aromatic flavor and is a hearty bird compared to various others. Smoked turkey works well in most Italian dishes and can be used in place of pancetta.
Smoked turkey is a great option to use in case you are not a fan of pork. It is leaner and has less fat content, and is just as delicious as pancetta. Smoked turkey is also ready to eat in most cases, just like pancetta.
You can use smoked turkey in recipes like sandwiches, on top of pizzas, in pastas, salads, and anything else under the roof. In case you have trouble finding turkey, you can go for other lean meats such as chicken too. However, turkey is more hearty and will work better.
6. Pork Belly
Pancetta comes from the belly region of pork. So, pork belly is meat that comes from the exact same area as pancetta. It has a meaty and salty taste and can work as a substitute for pancetta in various recipes.
Pork belly is often sold salted and hence can be a bit too salty as compared to pancetta. The best way to get rid of this extra salt content is by soaking or boiling the pork belly in the water. After that, you can slice it and cook it the way you wish.
Pork belly, when braised or fried, works really well in salads, sandwiches, pizzas, and pastas. An important thing to remember with pork belly is that it is very high in fat content. So, it won’t be the best fit for people with certain health issues.
7. Porcini Mushrooms
Porcini mushrooms are hearty and give a meaty texture to food. If you are a vegetarian or vegan looking for alternatives for pancetta, porcini mushrooms are a great option for a substitute.
Porcini mushrooms are extremely nutritionally dense. They are rich in various vitamins and minerals and low in fat. So, they make a great option for those who are looking for a healthy alternative for pancetta.
Other than that, mushrooms, in general, are very hearty and add a lot of depth to most recipes. So, whether you are a vegetarian or not, porcini mushrooms are a good substitute for pancetta in almost all recipes. You can follow a 1:1 ratio for substitution.
8. Vegan Salami
Vegan salami is another great option for vegetarians and vegans. Though it is vegan, this salami has a very meaty texture and flavor that works well as a substitute for pancetta in various recipes.
Whether you believe it or not, vegan salami is actually a thing! With the rising population of vegans all over the world, a lot of food manufacturers have engineered vegan salami to be such that it gives the same meaty flavor as regular salami does.
Vegan salami will work well in sandwiches, salads, pasta, sauces, and as a pizza topping too. You can follow a 1:1 ratio of substitution while using vegan salami in place of pancetta in any recipe.
Short Recap For Best Pancetta Substitutes
That wasn’t a very long list, but it was definitely a descriptive list of substitutes that you can use in place of pancetta. Now I know some of you may still be confused about which substitute to use. So, I have classified the substitutes in categories to make it easier.
Best Pancetta Substitutes That Have A High Fat Content:
- Pork Belly
Best Pancetta Substitutes That Have A Low Fat Content:
- Smoked Turkey
- Smoked Ham
- Porcini Mushrooms
How To Substitute Pancetta
- Smoked Ham
- Smoked Turkey
- Pork Belly
- Porcini Mushrooms
- Vegan Salami
- Go through the substitutes and see which one seems fit for the recipe.
- Collect your ingredients and use your preferred substitute.
- Use the substitute in the required amount and proceed to make the dish according to the recipe.
As we have reached the end of this article, I hope you got the information you needed for the best pancetta substitutes. Pancetta is a great meat cut for sure. It works well in almost all recipes and is definitely heavenly for any meat lover.
However, pancetta must be eaten in moderation by everyone. This is not particular to those with health issues. Since pancetta is full of fat, eating too much of it is definitely harmful for the body. Eating too much pancetta is the same as eating too much bacon.
So, my personal opinion would be to pick the substitutes for your recipe depending on how much pancetta you plan to use. If you need a large quantity for a small recipe, it would be best to pick a healthier option. I can guarantee that they will give you the flavor you desire!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the difference between pancetta and bacon?
Both pancetta and bacon are cured with salt, however the primary difference is that bacon is smoked whereas pancetta is not.
Is pancetta healthier than bacon?
Both pancetta and bacon are very high in fat. However, pancetta does have a slightly lower fat content than bacon, making it a bit healthier.
Is pancetta the same as prosciutto?
No, they are both different cuts of meat. Pancetta comes from the belly of the pig whereas prosciutto comes from the hind leg.
Can pancetta be eaten raw?
As pancetta is a cured meat, it can be eaten raw.