Guanciale is the Italian word to describe a cured pigs jowl. It's the traditional ingredient in Spaghetti Alla Carbonara but it can be used in many other dishes too.

Guanciale vacuum packed

Thinly sliced you can wrap it round fish or chicken breast to add flavour and aid moisture retention. We also use it for our avocado and bacon bites.

Chop it into lardons, pan fry for a couple of minutes until crisp and you've got a tasty finish to a gourmet salad or why not simply add some to your scrambled egg in the morning?

A Traditional Process

I dry cure the jowl for 4 days in a sweet cure (with a few added spices) and turn it each day. The jowl is then air dried in a carefully controlled temperature and humidity for 3 weeks until it is ready for consumption. The air drying serves two purposes:-

  1. As it says, to dry the meat resulting in a firm "ham"
  2. Equalisation - this is the movement of the cure from the outer edges of the jowl to an even distribution throughout

I can then finish off the product with a light smoke if I choose or simply slice and cook.

As I did with the air dried bacon the cure I use is blended without the use of salt petre of potassium nitrite. That said you can't describe the product as nitrite free because there are additional spices and vegetable seeds in the cure blend some of which may contain naturally occurring nitrite. What you can say however is that these seeds are used specifically to maintain traditional flavouring and not to add nitrite "through the back door".

Guanciale is made from the jowl
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