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Apr 5, 2010 05:37 PM

Guanciale question

I was able to get the jowls from the hog I bought from a local farmer, so that I can try making guanciale. One question - should you remove the skin first? Mine have pretty thick skin with some hair on it, and I don't know if that's the "standard" way jowls come from meat shops. I already located a gland that should be removed.

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  1. I believe so. I get guanciale from a local pig farmer and its never had skin on it. But that is my only experience with purchasing guanciale.

    2 Replies
    1. re: lynnlato

      Thanks for the quick reply. I cut the skin off, and I'm sure it would not be a good thing to try to eat - wow, it's tough! I also cut off some fatty connective tissue from the inside, and ended up with about 11/3 lbs, which seems about right according to the usual recipes. I suspect the butcher had no experience with guanciale, so just gave me the whole hunk.

      This will be a fun experience to see how it turns out.

      1. re: patricium

        I admire your willingness to try it yourself.

        We had leitao assado in Portugal a couple of yrs ago and there was definitely skin on it but it wasn't thick and tough as you described. I'm sure that has everything to do with the fact that that dish involves suckling pigs, as opposed to adults.

        Either way, I'm sure it will turn out great. Enjoy!

    2. I just made a second batch this winter. Both times, I've used skin off jowls. Both times it has been excellent, though one thing i did the second time was to trim the jowls a little better. the super thin parts, particularly if they are more meat than fat, tend to get a little over salty and dried out. It is so easy, I would highly recommend making your own to anyone who can get their hands on fresh jowls. For preparation, I'd suggest using Marcella Hazan's Carbonara recipe. It is divine with the delicate guanciale.

      1. You cure the jowls with the skin on but usually cut it off before use.

        2 Replies
        1. re: mbfant

          this is how i cure my bellies for bacon but the jowls i ordered from the same farm came skinless. that's how i cured them and they came out fine.

          1. re: csweeny

            Jowls are pretty thin, so I doubt it makes much difference skin on or off. I've made pancetta and bacon both ways, and I don't see any difference. Jowls I've only cured skin on, but I expect the result also would be the same either way.

        2. I've not been able to get them with the skin on. I did spend a fair bit of time removing glands, too.

          Here's a link to my blog posts about it (with pics):

          1 Reply
          1. re: svetlanazukas

            As a followup, the guanciale turned out great. After about a week of curing in the fridge with salt/etc, it hung in my basement for about 6 weeks until it seemed consistently dryish all the way through. I did not use curing salt, so mine isn't as pink as the photos referenced above. But it tastes amazing! It's pretty salty - not really something you eat as a slice like bacon. I used it in carbonara, and some small dice in scrambled eggs. Yum.