January 18, 2011

Getting Cheeky for Charcutepalooza

Once there was a pig. A special pig. Now his cheek is in my fridge. I promise to treat it with love.

This passion for pigs goes way back. Now living in Tuscany I am blessed to be able to say I really know where the food I eat comes from. These are Cinta Senese Pigs at the Casamonti Farm in Castellina in Chianti.

My friend Ray was part of the movement to save this pigs from extinction. Their fat is similar to olive oil due to their diet. This thick layer of fat cooks more slowly, so I will be interested in seeing how long it takes to make my guanciale with it.

Of course, I could have just bought a guanciale from Ray, as they turn their pigs into prosciutto, salami and guanciale. But I love to try things at least once. Ray is coaching me on his recipe for making it.

bad foto, but Sandro had my guanciale all ready trimmed and ready for me!

The Guanciale weighs 1,550 kilos which is about around 3 pounds.  

On the left is the salt they sell here in the store to make your own  cured meats at home, it is sea salt from Cervia, which is the least salty of the sea salts in Italy and seasoned with black pepper, rosemary and garlic.

On the right is the normal Sicilian sea salt we get at the grocery store. I am not using any "pink salt" as it is not the tradition here. We will see how it turns out.

this blend is suggested for making pancetta and coppa

This probably won't be done for the February Charcutepalooza post, for that I will try making bacon as it is not easy to find here and I adore a good BLT!


  1. Anonymous8:43 PM

    Hi Judy,
    When you made your guanciale, did the dry cure become a brine after a day or so, due to all the liquid drawn out of the jowl?

  2. yes- salt draws out the water which would create bacteria in the meat-

  3. Wow! I work with mangalitsa quite a bit, and am often surprised at the thickness. But, this looks just lovely. Che fortunato!

  4. Oh, I can almost taste that already! luscious.

  5. It will be great to follow your journey with the guanciale. Looks like you have some pretty great coaching. Can't wait to see how it turns out.