For many years, we have been enjoying the occasional pork rib or chicken wing smothered in homemade barbecue sauce. Though our preferences have changed over the years for lighter and fresher fare, this is a special treat that is still with us– one of the few recipes we are still making. It’s a family favorite, though whenever we’ve served this to friends it’s also a massive hit. Just mentioning to our friend Laura that this in on the menu sends her into a fit of child-like delight.
How to translate this to a cocktail party then? Who wants to lick their fingers on one hand while holding a cocktail in the other? Many guests would rather pass them up than to figure out how to deal with bones, all the while juggling a drink. Too messy. The taste is so satisfying in such small amounts that it is actually the perfect flavor to go with cocktails. It’s the functionality that is the obstacle. No bones.
Fresh pancetta, or pork side, is the solution. It has the same ratio of fat to meat as ribs and is full of flavor. Cut into strips, these can be grilled like steaks, though we find they tend to cook better when loaded into a basket and rotated over the wood coals, absorbing the smoke while simultaneously self-basting. Pork side is a cut that your butcher will remove just above the rib. In fact, it is the cut of meat used to make cured pancetta and bacon, so it is the most natural bacon taste from pork, minus the sodium nitrate found in processed bacon that enhances its natural flavor. Since there is no bone and only a limited amount of cartilage, it is easy to slice into bite-sized chunks that can then be picked up with wooden picks by your guests. The barbecue sauce is heated and then tossed with the grilled pancetta so as to avoid burning them. What results is a supremely delicious taste, without the mess or sticky fingers. Just the right hearty nibble when you want to add meat to your menu at your next cocktail party.
Grilled Pancetta with Cerines Barbecue Sauce
Serves 12-15 for cocktails
Season with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil:
- 6-8 slices fresh pancetta
Place the slices snugly together into the grilling basket. Cook for 20-25 minutes. Remove from baskets and turn onto a wooden cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut each strip into 6-8 pieces.
Place all the pieces into a large bowl and toss with:
- 1 cup of Cerines Barbecue Sauce.
Place on a serving platter with wooden skewers arranged in a tall glass (alternately, arrange tooth picks in a small glass). Serve immediately.
Tips for success
- Ask your butcher to cut pork side into 2 cm/ 2/3 in. slices.
Tips for using the myGrill Chef SMART™ Grill:
Use the Automatic Mode and choose “Steak”. Cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the pancetta have developed a golden color. If you think it needs a bit more time, it is done. As long as the internal temperature (use an instant read thermometer if you are unsure) measures 58°C / 138°F, it is safe to eat. You want them to be moist and juicy, not leathery and difficult to chew.