Guanciale is cured pork jowl. It is the traditional ingredient for Spaghetti alla Carbonara, Amatriciana and Gricia, but difficult to find outside of Italy. Pancetta (cured pork belly instead of jowl) can be used as a substitute, but of course it is nicer to use the real thing. After the success with making my own homemade pancetta, I also wanted to try making my own guanciale. Pork jowl is not as easy to find as pork belly, but luckily my butcher was willing to sell me some.
I used a basic spice mix (only salt, sugar, black pepper, and garlic) to be able to taste the difference with pancetta. The process of making it is quite easy and takes about 5 weeks. You only need a place with suitable conditions: cool (16ºC/60ºF) and a free flow of air. A cellar would be perfect and very traditional, but our garage was just fine. It is now getting warmer, so more guanciale and pancetta making will have to wait for the fall.
1 pork jowl, rind still on, about 1.2 kg (2.6 lbs)
2 cloves garlic, minced
35 grams (3%) salt, about 5 tsp
17.5 grams (1.5%) freshly ground black pepper, about 7 tsp
17.5 grams (1.5%) sugar, about 4 tsp
neutral white wine for rinsing
I paid a bit over 4 euros (almost 6 US dollars) for the piece of pork jowl, so homemade guanciale is not expensive at all ($6/lb, or 9 euros/kg).
A very appropriate flashback today: Spaghetti all’Amatriciana, or spaghetti with a sauce of tomatoes, guanciale (or pancetta), dried hot chile pepper, and garlic.