What’s The Difference Between Prosciutto, Bresaola & Pancetta?

Welcome to Advice for Impatient Foodies, R29's new cooking column. Each week, our executive food editor and Impatient Foodie founder, Elettra Wiedemann, will tackle any and all questions you might have about food. Seriously, no query is too big or too small. Don't be embarrassed! We've all had moments in the kitchen when we had no idea WTF was going on and wished we could ask someone other than Google for some pointers. So, whether you need help frying an egg, knowing when your chicken is done, or deciding what to make for dinner, we've got your back.

What is the difference between prosciutto, bresaola, and pancetta? I always get them confused and am never sure which to buy for what cooking/eating purposes!
Photographed by Mike Garten.
What unites prosciutto, bresaola, and pancetta is that they are all cured meats. Pancetta is basically Italian bacon. It's used in cooking and is an excellent way to bring flavor to soups or sauces. It's also great in spaghetti carbonara. Like pancetta, prosciutto is also cured pork, but it does not have to be cooked. It is excellent in sandwiches, or with mozzarella, or wrapped around melon. Or you can just gorge on it by itself, like I did. Bresaola is cured beef that has been air-dried. I am used to eating it very simply: Lay the bresaola on a plate and top with fresh arugula, a squeeze of lemon juice, some olive oil, and a pinch of salt. You can also make this easy meal with bresaola, which sounds mouthwatering and delicious.

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