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Guanciale

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Recently I discovered guanciale, the cheek or jowel bacon. I've used it a few times in a pasta dish, and a couple of days ago decided to fry some up and use it as regular bacon - have it with eggs or on a sandwich. Mmmm ... it's good stuff, and I like that it's not overly salty, sweet, or smokey.

I have two questions: How do you pronounce guanciale? Also, can the rendered fat be used like lard, at least in some situations?
post #2 of 12
I think I used it twice and once was in carbonara.. I don't think it is smoked but I think it is cured for a few monthes with salt and a few different kinds of pepper. Up North they called it Roman Bacon. I dont see why you cant save the fat of it after being cooked-like regular bacon. I never tried it on a sandwich or with eggs, but I will bet it is good. The reason we didn't use it much is because hardly any of our purveyors handled it and it was not cheap. I think I bought it retail in Brooklyn for abot $8.00 a pound and that was about 7 years ago. I have heard it prononced a few different ways. The c like a k. the end like ally depended on what part of Brooklyn they were from.
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post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
There are different cures. As far as I can tell, Mario Batali uses sugar, kosher salt, whole black peppercorns, and fresh thyme. Another chef in NYC uses a sugar and salt cure that includes dried thyme, bruised juniper berries, crushed red pepper, and fennel pollen. The guanciale I bought didn't have the taste of pepper or thyme. While I don't remember exactly what Niman Ranch uses to cure their guanciale, it is a little different than the examples above.

Some curemasters use Prague Powder II - AKA Instacure - to various degrees, a few, like Batali, eschew the stuff completely. And there are some wide variances in the length of time for the cure. I'm still researching and learning about it, and discovering who's doing what with it.

Thanks for your comments, Ed.
post #4 of 12
guanciale - pronounced gwan CHAH leh
means "pillow"
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #5 of 12
If you look in dictionary, in Italian it means cheek
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post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks ... I've heard the bacon referred to as pillows, and I noticed that when I cooked it, the pieces sort of puffed up a little. I think pillows is a nice term for it.
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
I'm not an etymologist, but I believe that guancia means cheek, and guanciale means pillow, cheeks and pillows being of similar shape, thus the connection. In the days when armor was worn, there was a piece that protected the cheek and jaw which was called the guanciale.
post #8 of 12
Yes, Shel, you're right. Cheek is guancia and the explanation from the armor is interesting and explains why guanciale is different from cuscino, the more common word for pillow, Guanciale is a small or special pillow, or a pillow in certain dialects. - and Ed, you should be careful of what the dictionary says, they're not always right, especially for translation. Which dictionary did you use? If you talk about your guanciale to an italian and point to your face, they will look very puzzled and may even humor you and slowly back away...
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #9 of 12
and Ed, you should be careful of what the dictionary says, they're not always right, especially for translation. Which dictionary did you use? If you talk about your guanciale to an italian and point to your face, they will look very puzzled and may even humor you and slowly back away...


Wikepedia Dictionary on line is the source of definition.
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post #10 of 12
Not sure, but isn;t wikipedia one of those things where anyone can add a definition? hardly reliable.
Try some of the online dictionaries like WordReference.com
They often also have forums for translators to discuss tricky translations and current slang.

I once had to correct a translation (done by an english speaking person!) from italian to english. It was hilarious. The siding of a building is called "paramenti" and since that's the same word that is used also for a priest's vestments, she wrote "the vestments of the building"!!
Same goes for automatic translators. To see how absurd the very concept is, try translating a sentence from english to korean, to greek, to swahili, to chinese and back to english again. You may find people in your sentence that were not there at all! Language is more than words.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
<LOL> That actually happened to me when I went looking for my first piece of guanciale. I pointed to my cheek and the gentleman in the meat department literally backed up a step and looked very puzzled.
post #12 of 12

guanciale

If I remember right, it is pronounced (gwan-CHALL-ehh).

Secondly, yes, you could use it that way, but it would be a crime to do so. Good guanciale is a very delicate and amazing thing. To fry it like bacon would be a sacrilage. Try it with some basil, olive oil and salt and pepper. It really is amazing just by itself or with minimal fuss.
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