While most pork bacon products are taken from the belly of a pig, Guanciale is made by drying the meat from a hog's jowls. Though the resulting meat is leaner than traditional pork pieces, it has a noticeably richer flavor. It is this richness, combined with a delicate porkiness, that more than merits the meat's three-week drying period. Making guanciale may require a little more planning than simply buying good-quality bacon or pancetta, but its abundance of flavor distinguishes guanciale from the rest, making every dish that much more succulent.
Makes 2 pounds
½ cup sugar
½ cup kosher salt
10 to 15 whole black peppercorns
4 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
2 pounds hog jowls
1. In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, salt, peppercorns and thyme. Coat the hog jowls with the mixture, rubbing gently. Place the jowls in a nonreactive casserole, cover, and refrigerate for 5 to 7 days.
2. Remove the jowls from the casserole and tie a piece of butcher's twine around the middle of each. Hang the jowls in a dry cool place (it should not be warmer than 60ºF.) for a t least 3 weeks. They should be firm and dry, with a slight give. Slice and use like bacon or pancetta.
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