Farm Box Dinner Friday Sept 26 at Ellis Bird Farm & Pancetta Recipe

Duck confit with beans and home-made pancetta

On Friday evening I ventured south on the QE2 towards central Alberta for a Terre It Up Catering – Farm Box Dinner, one of a series of locally sourced, gastronomical dinners at the beautiful Ellis Bird Farm near Lacombe, Alberta. 

IMG_3529Behind the concept is chef Blake Anderson, originally from Olds, and Pavla Hruzkova, a native of the Czech Republic with a hospitality background. Together the two host a unique culinary adventure in a tea house that makes you feel like you are stepping back in time for dinner.

With a commitment to supporting a few local growers through a community shared agriculature (CSA) share, the menu features meats and produce from local producers in central Alberta.

Friday September 26th the final dinner of the season will feature locally-sourced pork from Todd Lawrence of Soil to Salt

The menu costs $45 per person and dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. Email Blake and Pavla at, visit them on facebook, or call 403.586.4547.

The menu this Friday isis:

Brussel Sprout – Canadian Kimchi, Bacon
Pork Hock – Rye Crepe, Queso Fresco, Curtido,
Asian Choucroute – Glazed Belly, Hmong Sausage
Sea Buckthorn Posset

I thoroughly enjoyed my evening in the tea house with Pavla and Blake and it was certainly worth the drive. If you are driving between Edmonton and Calgary this is the perfect place to stop for dinner featuring locally sourced Alberta pork. My dinner featured duck from Country Thyme Farm, the confit leg was accented with house-made pancetta. Blake shared this recipe:

Pancetta Recipe
adapted from “Charcuterie” by Michael Rhulman & Brian Polcyn

5 lb slab of pork belly, skin removed, edges trimmed and of fairly even thickness
4 cloves of garlic, minced
12g pink salt (contains nitrates; optional **read packaging to determine proper amount**)
50g kosher salt
26g brown sugar
20g coarse black pepper
10g juniper berries, crushed
4 bay leaves, crumbled
4g grated nutmeg
4 sprigs of thyme
1.Thoroughly mix together all of the ingredients and massage them into the slab of belly. Place the belly in an extra large ziplock bag or vacuum pack.  Refrigerate for 7 days.
2.Every other day flip and massage the belly while keeping it in the bag. After 7 days the belly should feel considerably firmer having lost a lot of liquid.  Squeeze and poke it in the thickest parts, if it feels firm it is cured.  If it still feels squishy refrigerate for another 1-2 days.
3.Remove the belly from the bag and rinse it thoroughly under cold running water and pat it dry.  Lightly sprinkle the meat side with some more freshly ground black pepper. At this point you can choose to roll and tie the slab, but it is not necessary.  It is traditional to dry the pancetta for about a week.  This is also not necessary.  As it is, the pancetta will last a week or more in the fridge wrapped in plastic or in a plastic bag.
4.If you choose to dry the slab: wrap the slab in two or three layers of cheese cloth and hang to dry in a cool, humid location (8C-15C with about 60% humidity). Drying the pancetta will intensify the flavour, improve the texture and extend the storage life.
5.The easiest and most convenient storage option is to cut the pancetta into 1/2 lb pieces, wrap tightly in plastic or vacuum pack then freeze. The pancetta will last at least 3-4 months in the freezer, 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator.
This kind of “fresh” pancetta is great added to soups and stews and is essential for pasta carbonara. You could even smoke this to turn it into a kind of bacon.