You’re most likely familiar with pancetta, a sort of Italian bacon. However, we are about to open the doors to a more flavorful Italian pork product that’s going to take your meals to the next level — guanciale.
It’s no surprise if you’ve never heard of it before. It was actually banned in the United States until 2013.
Even though it’s allowed stateside, it’s still not easy to find at your local market. We’ve got you covered — keep reading to find out how to make your own and how to add it to your dishes.
What is Guanciale?
Bacon can come from the back, side, or belly of the pig. Pancetta typically comes from the belly.
Guanciale, however, comes from the guancia — the cheek. Pork jowls are fattier than other cuts of pork and melts into your meals.
The jowl is seasoned and then dried and aged for up to three months. This enhances and concentrates the flavors which will then add that extra “pow” to your meals.
An Easy and Homemade Recipe
To keep it simple, start with one kilogram of trimmed hog jowl. Click here to find the perfect cut of meat that you’ll need for this recipe.
From there, you’ll need spices. Mix together 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt, one teaspoon pink curing salt, one teaspoon of both sage and rosemary, and four tablespoons of coarse black pepper.
While wearing gloves, place your jowl on a clean cutting board. Rub in your salt, pepper, and spices mixture so that the meat is coated.
Place your meat in a resealable plastic bag, then suck out all of the air. Put it in a baking dish and leave it in your fridge for one week, turning it over once a day.
When the week is up, pour 1 1/2 cups dry white wine into the dish and add your pork jowl. Remember to always wear gloves while handling your meat.
After immersing the pork in the wine, place it on a clean cutting board. Use a sterile knife to cut a hole and thread some twine through it.
You’ll need to weigh your meat and make note of how heavy it is. Lay it uncovered in a rack in a shallow pan for about one to two weeks in your fridge until it’s 20 to 30% lighter.
Remember to turn it over so that each side gets some air. Be very precise to ensure your pork is safe to eat.
The Secret to Delicious Italian Cuisine
The simplest way to enjoy your new guanciale is to add a thin slice of it to crusty bread. The fatty flavors will melt into the crisp bread and make a delicious appetizer.
You haven’t made real carbonara sauce until you’ve added flavorful cured pork jowl to your recipe. The other classic sauces that call for guanciale are amatriciana and gricia.
You’ll never rely on just pancetta or bacon in your authentic Italian meals once you’ve got your hands on this secret ingredient. If you want to learn more ways to spice up your cooking skills, check out our other cooking tips and tricks.