Recipe & Video How to make and use Guanciale at home - a collaboration from CookingBites members

Flawed

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A Brief History here:
I'm a relative newbie here, but am an experienced and passionate home charcuterie maker here in the UK and recently crossed paths with a veteran member MypinchofItaly where we were discussing the use of guanciale - this is one of the first and most easy things you can make from a charcuterie perspective as it is almost foolproof, doesn't require any specialist equipment, and is 10x cheaper to make than buy - just how rewarding is that! But I haven't made it for years as I was lost for recipes, previously I only used it for Pasta alla carbonara and Bucatini all'Amatriciana....so thanks to Cooking Bites and MypinchofItaly for a new lease of life of me making this!
So we have collaborated :thankyou:and bring you a guide to make your own Guanciale :

View: https://youtu.be/DSq-ImMN1Pk


GUANCIALE (pronounced “ger-wan-shar-lay”) is fabulous cut of cured meat used in Italian cooking that is flavoursome, follows the mantra of not wasting anything from the pig, and an ideal cut for the beginner to try their hand at some homemade charcuterie. There is no point being squeamish about part of the pig this is from – it’s the jowl from the side of the pig’s face – but remember that with all meats its typically the hardest working muscles that carry the most flavour; when combined with the fact that the face fat here is harder and different to the rest of the pig it can completely replace the need for any cooking oils and can take on a number of infused flavours.

Combine this with the fact that the jowl is a super cheap cut from the butcher it works out around 10x cheaper than any shop bough equivalent if you do it yourself. Depending upon your location you may have to ask the butcher to order in for the next day as certainly here in the UK it is not a commonly used part of the pig at all. When selecting try and get the fattiest jowl you can! The fattier the better.

Used typically across central and southern regions of Italy it is probably most famous for being the integral ingredient in the trinity of classic dishes like Amatriciana, Carbonara, and Gricia. In fact “pancetta” is not traditionally used in these dishes at all.

This was one of the first cuts I learnt many many years ago, and its ideal for a beginner as it is almost fool proof; this is a very forgiving piece of meat – there is only one important thing to remember and that is the % of salt.

INGREDIENTS

Whole Pig Jowl
3% of the weight of the jowl in Salt (see above)
1.5% Cracked Pepper
Ground black pepper (for the second stage)
A ziplock bag or large sealable food grade bag

And then additional flavourings are entirely down to you. I love using some crushed garlic, fresh rosemary, and some chilli flakes – but you can add anything you like here – bay leaf, juniper berries, thyme, oregano, fennel seeds, coriander seeds – it’s like having a blank canvas and you are the artist!

I recommend :
2 garlic cloves crushed whole under the flat of a knife
A spring of rosemary
A teaspoon of chilli flakes

METHOD

1.Leave the skin on, and prepare the jowl by removing the gland (if present) and any hair on the skin side (burn or shave off), then gently wash and pat dry with clean tea towel.

2.Grab a large dish, place the jowl in (meat side up) and sprinkle over all the salt, cracked pepper, and optional flavourings (in this case the garlic, rosemary leaves, and chili flakes) and rub/massage the dry mix all over the meat side – give it all a good rub in – then with what hasn’t stuck to it, rub over the skin side. Enjoy those glorious aromas of your spice mix!

3.Place the jowl in the bag, along with ALL the remaining cure that is in the dish. Then seal the bag, getting rid of as much air as possible. A good tip here is to submerge the bag in water, and through the magic of something called the Archimedes Principle, the bag will constrict around the bag pushing the air out. Then seal and dry the bag.
jowls-ready-for-fridge.jpg

Dry cure and jowl in bag - ready for the fridge

4.Now massage the meat again through the bag for a minute or so.

5.Now pop it in the fridge, skin side up. It’s going to stay here for 5-7 days (5 days minimum, go to 7 for larger pieces > 1kg or so). If you are able to add some weight or other fridge goods on top then do so – this will all aid with pressing the water out from the meat – but is not essential. Most important is to take it out each day, give it another massage to redistribute the dry cure, and TURN IT OVER. It’s not the end of the world if you forget a day as long as the meat side has been down at least 3 days.
jowl-after-5-days.jpg

After 5 days, the meat will be darker

6.Over the days you will liquid starting to form - don’t be tempted to open and pour this away – this is the salt extracting the water from the meat through osmosis (you may remember this from school!) This is now becoming a natural brine and will be imparting the flavours from your blend. You may notice that the meat is darkening - this is entirely normal and part of the process.

7.After the 5-7 days, take out the fridge and wash the brine and any loose cure off. No need to scrub anything here, just wash off what comes off naturally under some running water – some parts of the cure will stay stuck to the jowl. It’s fine to leave this. Now pat dry with a clean tea towel, remembering to check any crevices at the side.

8.Now sprinkle ground black pepper all over meat and pat in with your hands. The pepper will stick to the meat and fat as this will be a bit tacky now. This will now be serving to protect your meat from insects as well as adding to the flavour profile.

9.Your jowl will have one end that is thinner and more flappy – here you want to pierce it and pass some kitchen string or twine through to create a hoop, so the meat can be hung.
10.Now hang this somewhere in a room that is relatively cool and out of any direct sunlight. No need to be fastidious about this – anywhere 10-18C is fine.

11.You are going to leave this now for at least 5 weeks. There will some weight loss from the red meat portion but not from the fat. Much of the jowl is fat, and fat is an adipose tissue which means there is minimal water content, so it impossible to work to any % weight loss calculation that you may see with other cuts in charcuterie.

12.After the 5 weeks it is ready for use, you can leave it longer fi you wish and the flavours will mature further. To use, just cut off the amount you need – the recipe may or may not call for you to remove the skin. This can then then be stored in the fridge or rehung – although to be fair when I have made a batch of 3-4 jowls they get devoured pretty quickly or part of a trade with a begging friend who wants some at home.
jowls-hanging_orig.jpg

Guanciale hanging and drying

As ever, feedback is welcome. This is also hosted on my site : How to make Guanciale - Recipe for Italian Cured meat - cured pig jowl
 

medtran49

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I've never made guanciale before, but ordered some hog jowl to do so once, then found a huge slab of it at a very reasonable price next door to where we picked up the hog jowl, so I ended up making German/Austrian speck, which is cured and cold smoked, out of the fresh hog jowl we had purchased.

Love making dishes with guanciale. I prefer to use it over pancetta because of the way it cooks up.

Going to have to agree to disagree with you on the pronunciation though. Never heard it pronounced that way in Italy or by American Italians. I've always heard guan-chaa-lei.
 

Flawed

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I've never made guanciale before, but ordered some hog jowl to do so once, then found a huge slab of it at a very reasonable price next door to where we picked up the hog jowl, so I ended up making German/Austrian speck, which is cured and cold smoked, out of the fresh hog jowl we had purchased.

Love making dishes with guanciale. I prefer to use it over pancetta because of the way it cooks up.

Going to have to agree to disagree with you on the pronunciation though. Never heard it pronounced that way in Italy or by American Italians. I've always heard guan-chaa-lei.
I'm english and we have the missing dna for other languages or pronouctioantion ....my apologies :wink:
 

MypinchofItaly

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I'm sure MypinchofItaly can advise about how to pronounce guanciale in Italian. I don't have a clue! Meanwhile... is this what you mean medtran49?

View: https://youtu.be/MJ_vMRwXeEI

Yes, that’s the right pronunciation.
Italian words are pronounced exactly how they are written.
I’ve only noticed that sometimes here it’s pronounced as it sounds as “Uanciale”, forgetting the initial “Gu” pronounced as “Ghu” (so guttural sound) thus it’s “Ghuà” The accent is mostly on this and on the second à, so “Ghuànciàle”
 

caseydog

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Italian words are pronounced exactly how they are written.

I tell people the same thing all the time when they try to pronounce my last name, and add letters and syllables that aren't there. Although there are some Italian names even I have to ask how to pronounce, like the car designer "Giugiaro." I asked his assistant how to pronounce his name before I met him. I'm glad I did.

CD
 

MypinchofItaly

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Joined
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mypinchofitaly.co.uk
A Brief History here:
I'm a relative newbie here, but am an experienced and passionate home charcuterie maker here in the UK and recently crossed paths with a veteran member MypinchofItaly where we were discussing the use of guanciale - this is one of the first and most easy things you can make from a charcuterie perspective as it is almost foolproof, doesn't require any specialist equipment, and is 10x cheaper to make than buy - just how rewarding is that! But I haven't made it for years as I was lost for recipes, previously I only used it for Pasta alla carbonara and Bucatini all'Amatriciana....so thanks to Cooking Bites and MypinchofItaly for a new lease of life of me making this!
So we have collaborated :thankyou:and bring you a guide to make your own Guanciale :

View: https://youtu.be/DSq-ImMN1Pk


GUANCIALE (pronounced “ger-wan-shar-lay”) is fabulous cut of cured meat used in Italian cooking that is flavoursome, follows the mantra of not wasting anything from the pig, and an ideal cut for the beginner to try their hand at some homemade charcuterie. There is no point being squeamish about part of the pig this is from – it’s the jowl from the side of the pig’s face – but remember that with all meats its typically the hardest working muscles that carry the most flavour; when combined with the fact that the face fat here is harder and different to the rest of the pig it can completely replace the need for any cooking oils and can take on a number of infused flavours.

Combine this with the fact that the jowl is a super cheap cut from the butcher it works out around 10x cheaper than any shop bough equivalent if you do it yourself. Depending upon your location you may have to ask the butcher to order in for the next day as certainly here in the UK it is not a commonly used part of the pig at all. When selecting try and get the fattiest jowl you can! The fattier the better.

Used typically across central and southern regions of Italy it is probably most famous for being the integral ingredient in the trinity of classic dishes like Amatriciana, Carbonara, and Gricia. In fact “pancetta” is not traditionally used in these dishes at all.

This was one of the first cuts I learnt many many years ago, and its ideal for a beginner as it is almost fool proof; this is a very forgiving piece of meat – there is only one important thing to remember and that is the % of salt.

INGREDIENTS

Whole Pig Jowl
3% of the weight of the jowl in Salt (see above)
1.5% Cracked Pepper
Ground black pepper (for the second stage)
A ziplock bag or large sealable food grade bag

And then additional flavourings are entirely down to you. I love using some crushed garlic, fresh rosemary, and some chilli flakes – but you can add anything you like here – bay leaf, juniper berries, thyme, oregano, fennel seeds, coriander seeds – it’s like having a blank canvas and you are the artist!

I recommend :
2 garlic cloves crushed whole under the flat of a knife
A spring of rosemary
A teaspoon of chilli flakes

METHOD

1.Leave the skin on, and prepare the jowl by removing the gland (if present) and any hair on the skin side (burn or shave off), then gently wash and pat dry with clean tea towel.

2.Grab a large dish, place the jowl in (meat side up) and sprinkle over all the salt, cracked pepper, and optional flavourings (in this case the garlic, rosemary leaves, and chili flakes) and rub/massage the dry mix all over the meat side – give it all a good rub in – then with what hasn’t stuck to it, rub over the skin side. Enjoy those glorious aromas of your spice mix!

3.Place the jowl in the bag, along with ALL the remaining cure that is in the dish. Then seal the bag, getting rid of as much air as possible. A good tip here is to submerge the bag in water, and through the magic of something called the Archimedes Principle, the bag will constrict around the bag pushing the air out. Then seal and dry the bag.
View attachment 65100
Dry cure and jowl in bag - ready for the fridge

4.Now massage the meat again through the bag for a minute or so.

5.Now pop it in the fridge, skin side up. It’s going to stay here for 5-7 days (5 days minimum, go to 7 for larger pieces > 1kg or so). If you are able to add some weight or other fridge goods on top then do so – this will all aid with pressing the water out from the meat – but is not essential. Most important is to take it out each day, give it another massage to redistribute the dry cure, and TURN IT OVER. It’s not the end of the world if you forget a day as long as the meat side has been down at least 3 days.
View attachment 65101
After 5 days, the meat will be darker

6.Over the days you will liquid starting to form - don’t be tempted to open and pour this away – this is the salt extracting the water from the meat through osmosis (you may remember this from school!) This is now becoming a natural brine and will be imparting the flavours from your blend. You may notice that the meat is darkening - this is entirely normal and part of the process.

7.After the 5-7 days, take out the fridge and wash the brine and any loose cure off. No need to scrub anything here, just wash off what comes off naturally under some running water – some parts of the cure will stay stuck to the jowl. It’s fine to leave this. Now pat dry with a clean tea towel, remembering to check any crevices at the side.

8.Now sprinkle ground black pepper all over meat and pat in with your hands. The pepper will stick to the meat and fat as this will be a bit tacky now. This will now be serving to protect your meat from insects as well as adding to the flavour profile.

9.Your jowl will have one end that is thinner and more flappy – here you want to pierce it and pass some kitchen string or twine through to create a hoop, so the meat can be hung.
10.Now hang this somewhere in a room that is relatively cool and out of any direct sunlight. No need to be fastidious about this – anywhere 10-18C is fine.

11.You are going to leave this now for at least 5 weeks. There will some weight loss from the red meat portion but not from the fat. Much of the jowl is fat, and fat is an adipose tissue which means there is minimal water content, so it impossible to work to any % weight loss calculation that you may see with other cuts in charcuterie.

12.After the 5 weeks it is ready for use, you can leave it longer fi you wish and the flavours will mature further. To use, just cut off the amount you need – the recipe may or may not call for you to remove the skin. This can then then be stored in the fridge or rehung – although to be fair when I have made a batch of 3-4 jowls they get devoured pretty quickly or part of a trade with a begging friend who wants some at home.
View attachment 65102
Guanciale hanging and drying

As ever, feedback is welcome. This is also hosted on my site : How to make Guanciale - Recipe for Italian Cured meat - cured pig jowl

It has been a honour to collaborate with you and I hope we’ll keep to do it again 🙂
As I already said to you, my paternal family has a tradition of making homemade fresh sausages, salami, but not guanciale - or at least I don’t remember any of them making this and my dad never mentioned this in his cooking books.
I like it so much when people exchange ideas, experience and learning from each other.
Sooner or later I’ll give it a try to guanciale by following your recipe.
You make it look so easy 😊 (foolproof 😅)

Meantime I am thinking about a new recipe to make soon where Guanciale is involved... but not a pasta dish. Ooohhh, suspense :hyper:
 

Flawed

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Oooooooooh i never would have thought offusing it like that! Bravo!
I have a number of dried mushrooms (morrells etc) that I think I want to try this with, and use the water used to refresh the shrooms in the stock though I wonder if that will make it too earthy in flavour?
Anyway that's my dinner sorted :)
 

MypinchofItaly

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Oooooooooh i never would have thought offusing it like that! Bravo!
I have a number of dried mushrooms (morrells etc) that I think I want to try this with, and use the water used to refresh the shrooms in the stock though I wonder if that will make it too earthy in flavour?
Anyway that's my dinner sorted :)

Thank you! :highfive:
Dried mushrooms are perfect, you can simply filter the water through a fine-meshed strainer to avoid the earthy effect.
 
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