Guanciale - Gourmet Guide

June 12, 2019 | By Dave Mattingly

Guanciale is cured unsmoked Italian pig jowls or cheeks. The word Guanciale comes from the Italian word guancia, meaning "cheek". A specialty from the Umbria and Lazio regions of Central Italy, Guanciale is a traditional ingredient in such dishes as pasta all'amatriciana and spaghetti alla carbonara.

Guanciale is Italian pork bacon that is prepared by rubbing the meat with salt and curing it for one month. Guanciale is then seasoned with pepper and spices such as thyme, fennel, coriander and rosemary. After the Guanciale is air-dried, it is ready for consumption.

When Guanciale is not available, it is often substituted with pancetta, which is another form of Italian cured pork, although Guanciale offers much more of a deep pork flavor than pancetta. Guanciale has a smooth, rich flavor and delicate, buttery texture.

Delicious in sauces and sautés, Guanciale is the ideal seasoning for many pasta dishes such as pasta carbonara. Guanciale is typically thicker than bacon, but may be cut into thin strips and wrapped around a few stems of asparagus. Guanciale is also adds a unique mouth-watering flavor to vegetables.

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