Monday, March 24, 2008


Guanciale is magic. Imagine bacon, only better; porkier, tastier, richer. Guanciale is the cured jowl of the pig. It is cured in similar fashion to pancetta, which is unsmoked cured pork belly, but the location on the animal gives it a very different taste and texture. Since the cheeks/jowls of the pig see a lot of exercise the hunk of pork derived from them is tougher than the belly, and has much more intramuscular fat instead of layering as is seen on the belly.

I used a very simple formula to not hide the quality of this pork which i got from Niman Ranch. Unfortunately this piece of meat is very difficult to find, even in ethnic butchers. You can sub a piece of pork belly and get good results as well.

IngredientQuantity(g)% of Meat+Fat
Pork jowls
Salt - Kosher
Black pepper crushed
Cure #23.20.25%
Thyme (Dry)10.08%

I mixed the cure well, trying to make certain the cure #2 was well dispersed in the sal

The cure mixture is rubbed onto the jowels, making sure to get into the "nooks and crannies".

The jowls are then put into a ziplock bag, and they'll be turned every few days.

Once cured, they'll be hung to dry for anywhere between 1 and 6 months.


Anonymous said...

Nice work JMO.

Guanciale for sure.

You make it sound so easy, and I know it is not.


Jasonmolinari said...

Thanks Rowdy...this is one of the easiest cured meats...this and pancetta can be dried in a regular refrigerator.
I'll explain in a few days once i hang mine.

Anonymous said...

How long are you going to cure it?

Jasonmolinari said...

I'll probably cure it for about 7-10 days, then dry it for at least 30.

GadgetGeek said...

My two questions got answered.. Keep teaching me Jason...

Anonymous said...

How do you get the jowls from Niman ranch? I've never seen them offered on the web site. Special order? Any recollection of what the minimum quantity was?

Unknown said...

JimK, i don't know if htey sell them anymore. I got them about 2 years ago, and they've been vac packed in my freezer since. There was no minimum order back then.

Anonymous said...

Jason-approved jowls at !


Jasonmolinari said...

Awesome, thanks Emile. Good to know you have them!
I DO love cawcaw creek's been the best i've ever eaten.


Mosaica said...

Hello Jason,

My guanciale has been hanging now for a week, and I have a few questions.

First, I've read your timings and also those of Polcyn & Ruhlman in Charcuterie. Yours seems to be around 3+ weeks in cure in the fridge, and then hanging from 1-6 months in your curing chamber. P & R suggest a small week curing in cure in the fridge and then 1-3 weeks of hanging. Can you talk about the difference?

My curing environment (chamber is too fancy a word for my setup) has a temperature that varies from 40-55, and a humidity which varies from 28 to 48 and averages around 45 when I keep up on draping a wet towel alongside my environment. Should I be going by feel more than anything in this case?

I guess that's it for today. I hope you & your family are enjoying December so far :-)


Jasonmolinari said...

Mosaica, my fridge cures are about 2 weeks for all but the thickest of pieces of meat. More time won't hurt though.
As far as the drying phase..more time will concentrate the flavors more. You can do it for less time, but it won't be as dry and as really depends on what you prefer and also on your environment.
Feel is really the best way to measure, but a month or 2 in the curing chamber will get you a tasty product.

Mosaica said...

Thank you, Jason!

One of these days I'll have a *real* curing chamber. I've already printed out your excellent guide on making one, but I reckon it'll be a while before I get it finished.

Thanks again for being so helpful :-)


Jasonmolinari said...

you're welcome.

Kevin Kossowan said...

I'm tackling 20 pork jowls this morning, and intend on using your recipe for some of them. Looking forward to seeing how it goes.

adam said...

hi jason and other knowledgeable folk.

your blog is brilliant.
i recently cured my first guanciale.
having never bought any before, i dunno how it should taste, but its pretty delicious.

im about to embarck on my attempt at smoked guanciale or guanciale affumicato

can find any recipes - so does anyone have any advice.
i was thinking of cold smoking after the curing process and pre hanging to dry.

anyone have any experience or tips on this?


adam said...

one other thing - do you remove the skin from the jowl before curing?

or leave the skin on?


Jasonmolinari said...

Adam: i leave the skin on until i cook with it.
As far as smoking, yes, cold smoke after cure, before drying. Hard to say how much smoke since it depends on your setup, but probably 8-12 hours should be plenty.

adam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
adam said...

thanks thanks for the tips -
looking forward to the smoked version

i agree about your post about leaving the herbs on or i may even cure it a little longer and add extra thyme.
i am enjoying it, but feel it could do with more herbiness....

i have read some where that some italian guanciale - after rinsing after the curing, that they rub in dried pereronicino and pepper, then hang.

also this post (bad google translate)
they cure for 15-20 days, and smoke for 18-24 hours, they a high-ish temp dry and a low one for 40 to 60 days... phew

and poli uses garlic too, which i images is great with the rosemary in the fat

Jasonmolinari said...

ultimately smoke and herbs and other flavors are personal choice...experiment and find out what you like best. I like mine pretty simple.

Anonymous said...

unless i'm mistaken, i don't think you posted how you would dry that in a regular fridge like you said you would. i'd be very interested in knowing how you'd do that as i'm still months away from having convinced my wife to let me use some of the storage space for my future curing chamber.



Jasonmolinari said...

Sorry Simon, i answered the question maybe in comments, i should make a full post on it.

Basically, just put it on a wire rack in teh fridge for about 3-4 weeks. If it dries out too much just wrap it in a damp paper towel and put it in a zip bag for a couple days.

darthdart said...

Hi jason... I'm very new with curing meats. We sort of run a meat shop and seeing that there's a lot of unsold pork cheek daily I decided to try making guanciale (never tried and never tasted any)... I followed your steps but after a week the plastic bag that I used for my curing got ripped since I missed removing a tooth as I flipped it in the fridge. Right now it's still a bit squishy as I touched it and since it's a bit hard to estimate how much salt I should add again I decided to slice it up (either that or throw it away) and try cooking just a little... it was way too salty... is it really that salty? I used regular salt since there is no kosher salt available in my country... help! :D

note on the salt: I did my reading and it seems the only difference between kosher and regular salt is the anti clumping agents and other additives... and of course in grain size.. so I figured coarse regular salt would do... am I right? or wrong?

Jasonmolinari said...

Were you equilibrium curing? If so, after a week it was probably pretty close to equilibrium if the piece wasn't very big, so you could proceed to drying.

AT 3.5% salt it will be salty, but this isn't something you eat like a steak, it's like bacon, it's used for seasoning dishes.

regular salt is fine, as long as there are no additites (iodine and anti-caking agent)