Guanciale is a salumi that really deserves more attention. This charcuterie utilizes the pork cheek (jowl) that’s been cured and air dried. Guanciale looks a lot like bacon but trust me when I tell you that it isn’t even close. The fat in guanciale is more firm and the flavor is porkier (I hope that makes sense). Guanciale is used to make traditional Roman Carbonara but can be added to all sorts of food to elevate your dish.
In this project we wrapped our pork cheeks in a collagen casing. These casings are perfect for a project like this because they will form a skin like barrier on your muscle which will keep it from drying out to fast. The more control you have over how fast your guanciale dries the better it will turn out.
Our guanciale is going to be drying in a modified refrigerator that’s set to 55F and 80% humidity for roughly 4-6 weeks. If you want to see how we built that chamber you can check out our latest post on building a drying chamber for charcuterie.
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Curing the Pork Cheek
- start by rinsing your pork cheek. If you can get it with the skin still on that would be ideal. Weigh your pork cheek and input that weight into the "Servings" field of this recipe. It will automatically calculate the ingredients for you.
- combine all of the ingredients together and rub them all over your pork cheek. Place into a vac bag or a ziplock bag. Be sure to add 100% of all the spices into the bag. Remove as much air as possible.
- Place into the refrigerator for 1 week. Massage daily and flip the bag over every other day.
Drying the Pork Cheek
- Remove the cured cheek from the refrigerator and rinse clean. Wrap in a collagen sheet and truss it up. Weigh the pork cheek and record the weight.
- Place the cured pork cheek into a drying chamber set to 55F and 80% humidity for 4-6 weeks. I try to target a 15% – 20% weight loss for this charcuterie (depending on how fatty it is).
- After 4-6 weeks remove the guanciale from your drying chamber, remove the casing and the skin. Enjoy pan fried over just about anything you want…
The Carbonara recipe was adapted from Vincenzo’s Plate (vincenzosplate.com)
- 450 g spaghetti pasta
- 225 g guanciale
- 6 ea eggs
- 300 g grated pecorino cheese
- 2 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 cup hot pasta water plus a little more if the carbonara is on the dry side
- In a mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, cheese, and black pepper. Set to the side
- Begin by cooking your pasta in salted water till al dente.
- On a medium heat cook your guanciale. Stir to keep the guanciale from burning.
- As soon as the guanciale begins to take on some color and starts to get crispy take your freshly cooked pasta and add it to the skillet (with your guanciale). Reduce the heat to low.
- Take a cup of hot pasta water and slowly being to add it to your egg/cheese mixture. Whisk this well
- pour your egg sauce over the pasta (make sure it's on the lowest setting) and stir often. if you notice that your sauce is a little dry then add a little bit of pasta water to thin it out. As soon as your sauce has thickened you Carbonara is ready!! Enjoy
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