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Is There a Substitute for Pancetta?

Can pancetta be substituted with something else that would be easier to find in my local supermarket?

Bacon, but your friends will mock you and your self-esteem will suffer. People often refer to pancetta as Italian bacon, and it does come from the same general part of the pig — the belly. But bacon is smoked, while pancetta is dry-cured with salt and pepper. Nancy Verde Barr, writing in Make It Italian (Canada, UK), says a better substitute for pancetta is "fatty prosciutto or prosciutto ends." In our neck of the woods, however, that may not be any easier to find than run-of-the-mill pancetta.

Marcella Hazan, author of Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (Canada, UK), doesn't mince words when she says there is "no wholly satisfactory substitute" for pancetta.

So you might be content with smoked bacon in your dish instead of pancetta, but the message here is that perhaps you shouldn't make the switch when entertaining real Italians — or real Italian cookbook writers — at your table.

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