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Where can I find good guanciale in Northern VA?

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It's impossible to even find guanciale, let alone good guanciale. Most grocery stores don't even know what it is, including Whole foods and wegmans. So far I've tried the Italian Gourmet in Vienna. I don't know if they cured their own meats or imported them, but something about it seemed kind of off or funky, like it had been stored improperly. I'm gonna try Italian Store in Arlington, but I'm not too optimistic. Does anyone know if any farmer's markets nearby have a vendor that sell hard to find Italian cured meats?

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  1. Haven't seen them with Guanciale, but Red Apron butchery is at the Dupont farmers Market on Sundays - Overall their stuff is pretty good (some too heavy on the Fennel Pollen like the pepperoni). There is a new "Curer" that I don't know the name of at the Friday Ronald Reagan Bldg Farmers market - Prices are way overblown though and I have yet to find anything really worth it.
    If you find someone let us know!

    1. Guanciale has been hard to come by. I found some once at the Italian Store, but that was only once and it was decent at best (I suspect it was previously frozen, which my Italian friends tell me kills the intended taste of the guanciale). La Fromagerie in Old Town had some too, and it was cured by a local individual. It was excellent, but I don't know if it is something they have all the time. I'd check there. Personally, I've decided to convert an old mini-fridge into my curing fridge and I'm going to try my hand at Ruhlman's guanciale recipe from Charcuterie. It seems to be simple, check it out if you haven't already!

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      Italian Store
      3123 Lee Hwy, Arlington, VA 22201

      5 Replies
      1. re: mt7187

        Just purchased the book. Does curing guanciale require any specific temperature and humidity regulations? I have a mini fridge too, but I'm not sure how I would be able to adjust those variables and keep them constant

        1. re: takadi

          There are specific ranges - read the book and check out the forums on E-Gullet - TONS of info on both Ruhlman's book and curing chambers. I think I will go the Wine Fridge route here soon personally. A Thermostat for power should do the trick for Temp and I hear you can get pretty constant with a bowl of salted water for humidity or you can go the humidifier route - You can spend a Hundred or a Thousand, it just depends on how serious you want to be. I cured Pancetta from the book in my basement and it turned out nicely, but I need to take the next step...

          1. re: tommyskitchen

            I emailed Ruhlman with a few questions pertaining to the mini-fridge route. He said that a mini fridge on the warmest setting with a bowl of salted water will be sufficient for curing guanciale/pancetta. He said to keep it simple and try that method, so that's what I plan on doing. We should all try it out and compare our results!

            1. re: mt7187

              Cool - You should try the Duck Proscuitto as well - I didn't have great results but other say it is the easiest thing to cure in the book. Ill try it again when I have a real chamber!

              1. re: mt7187

                I'm revisiting this thread because I am starting to have a hankering for pork again. Did you ever go through with making the guanciale? I attempted to do so but I just couldn't not find a source for the jowls

        2. The Whole Foods out in Fairfax, where Emeril did his taping at times, had La Quercia (Iowa) guanciale on my visit. As a matter of fact, they had a good line up of their products. I bought some and though pricey, it was really decent stuff. And making your own really isn't that hard, probably one of the easiest home curing projects one could do. The most difficult part being to procure the jowls themselves.

          1. Granted it's not Northern Virginia, the new A.M. Wine Shoppe in Adams Morgan has guanciale in their small salumi section. I would certainly call them first before making the trip to the city. 2122 18th Street NW. (202) 506-2248. http://www.amwineshoppe.com