Home Made Guanciale

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Jun 1, 2009 3:40PM

Our love of bacon has come to its logical endgame: we're making our own.

About a month ago we bought in on a friend's sizable order of Berkshire pork from Newman Farm in Myrtle, MO. Since we were one of the last to pick up our allotment, we were left with some of the odder cuts, including a two-pound jowl. To paraphrase the old adage, when life gives you a pork jowl, make guanciale.

Guanciale is an Italian bacon made from the jowl that's leaner in fat, but richer in flavor, than its traditional pork belly counterpart. In his book Charcuterie (still the gold standard on cured meats) Michael Ruhlman writes that guanciale is one of the easier cuts to cure. All you need is kosher salt, sugar, black pepper and thyme. We've been growing some fresh thyme in our kitchen for a few months. It's been teasing us with its aroma and we were looking for some uses for it; enter the jowls.

Another simple guanciale recipe comes courtesy of Mario Batali (link). For Chicagoist readers who don't own a copy of Ruhlman's Charcuterie, this is the one we decided to use so you can follow along in our updates. Check in next week when we get ready to hang the jowl.