This is my third post about Guanciale, it is fair to say that I am slightly obsessed with the stuff. My first attempt was with jowls from a wild boar but ever since I found a regular supplier of pork jowls I have always had some on hand. In my latest effort I had about 10 pounds of jowls and decided that I was going to make two different types of guanciale. One using a recipe from Michael Ruhlman's book Salumi that is made with only sea salt and black pepper and the other I would make my own recipe.
For those unfamiliar with guanciale, it is the fatty jowl of a pig that is salted and air dried. It is very similar to bacon only it isn't smoked. I absolutely love the stuff and use it whenever I can, it makes a beautiful GLT, guanciale lettuce and tomato sandwich. It has a slightly different texture than bacon that I prefer. It crisps better and holds its fat pretty well so each bite is like a crunchy, fatty, succulent bite of heaven. In the past the only seasoning I have ever used was the sea salt and black pepper but I had read other recipes that used different seasonings. I figured it was time I tried to make my own version of guanciale.
At the beginning of February my wife and I went with some friends to an Italian restaurant and while I was there I had some bucatini all'amatriciana. It was an amazingly simple dish that was packed with flavor and of course used guanciale. Right after that meal I figured I need to make another batch of guanciale just so I could make the bucatini dish. I just happened to have 10 pounds of jowls in the freezer and thought why not make it all into guanciale. After all you can never have enough homemade porky goodness and I could always give some away or trade some with a friend of mine who makes his own bacon.
The guanciale making process takes about a month to complete. After salting the jowls they have to sit for 3-4 days, I accidentally let these go for a week because I got to busy. After that they need to be rinsed and dried hen they need to air dry until they lose about a third of their total weight. That can take a while but usually takes about three weeks. This week my guanciale was ready and all I wanted to do was make the all'amatriciana. Only one problem my wife and I had started some diet cleanse that she wanted to try and I wasn't allowed to have noodles unless they are gluten free. Good luck finding gluten free bucatini in Minnesota on short notice.
I used the gluten free spaghetti noodles and the dish turned out delicious. The noodles were good but they didn't hold up very well and broke into Small pieces as they cooked. I will be making this again as soon as this diet is over and I will be using bucatini. Until then here is the cure for the guanciale.
4 oz sea salt
30 grams sugar
15 grams insta cure #2
15 grams freshly ground black pepper
10 grams smoked paprika
10 grams chipotle powder
5 grams each dried oregano, dried thyme and garlic powder
This is enough cure for about 5 pounds of jowls.
Mix all the ingredients together and pour the cure into a large pan. Press each jowl into the cure mixture to coat each side. Place each jowl into its own one gallon Ziploc bag, place all the bags on a cookie sheet and put another cookie sheet on top. place 5-10 pounds of weight on the top pan to weight down the jowls and place in fridge for 3-4 days flipping the jowls over once every day. When the jowls are done rinse them clean and dry them with a paper towel. At this point you need to weigh each jowl. Hang your jowls in a dry cool place until they have lost a 1/3 of their total weight.