This is a reasonably easy way to get into cured meats. The process itself is not hard, although it requires time and a cool place to hang the meat. Probably the hardest part about making guanciale is finding a good hog jowl. You can order in advance ($6 per pound) from Red Apron Butchery at Union Market and at Mosaic District in Merrifield.
We found pink salt, which is necessary for curing, at Williams-Sonoma.
Make Ahead: The guanciale needs to cure in the refrigerator for 7 to 10 days and then must age for at least 3 weeks. The finished product can be wrapped well and refrigerated for several months. It can be frozen for up to 6 months, first cut into quarters and wrapped tightly.
Servings: 1 jowl
- 1 teaspoon pink salt (see headnote)
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon powdered garlic
- 1 tablespoon crushed black pepper
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 6 bay leaves, crushed
- 1 large skin-on hog jowl (see headnote)
Combine the pink and kosher salts, the sugar, powdered garlic, pepper, dried thyme, allspice and bay leaves in a bowl. Massage the cure mixture into the meat and fat of the jowl. Transfer to a container just large enough to hold the jowl, topping the jowl with any of the spice mixture that might have fallen away. Seal and refrigerate for 7 to 10 days, turning the jowl over once a day.
Once the meat has stiffened up at its thickest part, usually 7 to 8 days, rinse off the cure (you can leave a little on, but get most off) and pat the jowl dry. Place it on a rack in a drafty place for several hours.
Poke a hole through the meat at a corner of the jowl and tie sturdy string to it. Hang the jowl in a cool, moist place (50 to 60 degrees and at least 55 percent humidity) for at least 3 weeks before eating.
Adapted from Hank Shaw's blog, Hunter Angler Gardener Cook (www.honest-food.net).
Tested by Tim Carman.
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