BeanScene Magazine

Glorious guanciale

From the December 2015 issue.
Glorious guanciale

Made from the pork cheek or jowl, guanciale is a classic ingredient in some of Rome’s most famous pasta dishes.

Guanciale is believed to have originated in the Lazio region of Central Italy. It is common in Roman cuisine, particularly in dishes like spaghetti alla carbonara, pasta all’amatriciana and spaghetti alla gricia, where it is a traditional ingredient.

The adaptations of these pasta dishes we often see today typically feature pancetta as an alternative, which is often easier to find – however guanciale is a special type of salumi in its own right.

While guanciale is made of the cheek or jowl, pancetta is made of pork belly. As a result, the two are quite different. Guanciale has a more intense flavour than that of pancetta and its texture is also more delicate.

The name guanciale comes from the word guancia, meaning cheek in Italian. This type of cured meat forms part of the Italian tradition where nothing goes to waste and every part of the pig serves a purpose.

Nowadays, it is typically found in the regions of Lazio, Umbria, Abruzzo and Emilia Romagna. There are also producers in other parts of the world, including Australia, where the product is still not widely known.

Guanciale is made from a single piece of meat and is relatively simple to make. However, the quality of the meat is imperative to ensure a high quality finished product. 

To make guanciale, the meat is first cured with salt and black pepper, before being seasoned and then hung to dry for about a month. The choice of seasonings or spices used differ from region to region, even town to town and family to family.

Usually, guanciale is not eaten on its own, but rather is used in cooking. Try it as a tasty addition to a pasta sauce or ragù.

Australian producers
Quattro Stelle, Princi Smallgoods and Salumi Australia

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