Have you used guanciale before? Hailing from Italy, where it’s a much-used smallgood, you might be wondering how exactly you can use guanciale in your cooking. Read on for 3 delicious ways to use this salty meat.
What is guanciale?
Guanciale is a tasty cured meat made from pig’s cheek and seasoned with black pepper and sea salt. The word comes from guancia, which means cheek in Italian. Luckily for us, we don’t have to trek all the way to Italy to enjoy it now. You can find guanciale in many good butcher shops, although we particularly like buying ours at Meatsmith in Melbourne.
How to use guanciale?
Guanciale is most commonly cooked before you use it and can be added to a variety of dishes. It’s the typical cured meat used in many pasta sauces hailing from the Lazio region of Italy, like amatriciana, carbonara and gricia. Other delicious things to do with it include wrapping it around meat or using it in the stuffing of your roast. In Italy, many enjoy guanciale very thinly sliced and served on bread, similar to lardo.
3 Tasty Ways to celebrate guanciale
1. Garnish roast duck
There’s not much better than roasted duck legs, until you discover how much better they are when wrapped in guanciale. Make this a simple dish by wrapping your duck legs in thinly shaved layers of guanciale and thyme before roasting in the oven. Or you can amp it up a little by stuffing your duck legs with your favourite ingredients (think pinenut cream, ndjua, spiced pork, confit apple). Pop into a hot oven at 180 degrees for 25 minutes. To serve, topp with some crispy guanciale that you cook on the stove.
2. Pimp your panino
Bring Italy to you with a really Italian-flavoured, delicious roll for lunch. It’s simple to prepare but a welcome change if you’re not used to guanciale in your sandwiches. All you need is a crusty ciabatta roll, and fill it with some cooked slices of guanciale, prosciutto, pancetta, lonza, capocollo, pepperoni, red pesto, olives, sundried tomato, rocket and melted mozzarella. Delish!
3. Make it sing with pasta alla gricia
We’ll leave you with the dish to make that loudly celebrates guanciale. Pasta alla gricia is a staple in Rome and easy to prepare at home if you’re looking for a little taste of Italy. All you need is guanciale, pecorino, black pepper, and pasta. To make, fry off some cubes of guanciale in a hot pan and cook some bucatini in a pot of salted boiling water. Remove the guanciale from the pan once crispy and transfer the pasta into the pan mixing it with the fat that would have been released during the cooking of the guanciale. Add handfuls of grated pecorino cheese to the pan with some spoonfuls of pasta cooking water. You’ll end up with a creamy delicious sauce that shouldn’t be runny either. When the sauce is ready, add your guanciale and some big cracks of black pepper to the pasta. Voila!