Called "Italian bacon," pancetta is cured with salt and spices but not traditionally smoked (though there are now a few beechwood- and oak-smoked versions). Flavorful, slightly salty pancetta comes in a sausage-like roll of pink meat and white fat from the hog's belly portion. It's used in Italian cooking to flavor sauces, pasta dishes, forcemeats, vegetables and meats. Pancetta can be tightly wrapped and refrigerated for up to three weeks, or frozen up to six months.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.