What exactly is Guanciale?

I had never heard of this until seeing various recipes here stating authentic versions of recipe made with Guanciale. So of course when I spied a package of Smithfield Jowl Bacon I gave it a try. This particular product seemed closest to Canadian Bacon with maybe a slightly different flavor profile. So my question is: is "jowl bacon" the same as Guanciale or are there differences in the curing/smoking?

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4 Comments

Jan W. May 7, 2016
If you go to an Italian grocery that sells cured meat it is almost guaranteed that they'll have guanciale due to the popularity of amatriciana and carbonara. In NYC Salumeria Biellese (a tiny shop on 8th avenue south of Penn Station) makes a fantastic guanciale and if you buy it directly from them you'll get a great price too (it is also sold in other gourmet outlets throughout the city with much mark-up). Buonitalia also sells good quality guanciale. Do not use a smoked product as a substitute because it will throw the flavors of your dish out of whack - I would just use pancetta with a lot of lean.
 
Smaug May 4, 2016
I've never had it, but I don't think it's smoked; almost nothing in Italy is, making substitutions pretty problematic.
 
Ben M. May 4, 2016
Guanciale is an Italian cured pork jowl. It is cured for about three weeks until it looses about 30% of its original weight. My understanding is Guanciale is similar to Jowl Bacon but the process and spices used are slightly different.
 
pierino May 4, 2016
That's correct. It's typical of Roman style cooking as in bucatini l'amaticiana. Cured but notsmoked. There are a couple of places that I know of which make their own here. Mario Batal's father makes it for Salumi in Seattle and Alesina makes its own in Central California. Corti Brothers probably sells it too.
 
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