Everything You Need To Know About Guanciale
There may be several meaty treats globally, but very few come close to the exquisite taste of delicious guanciale.
This article is for anyone who wants to inform themselves on the necessary details about guanciale and its origin. We will also discuss guanciale substitutes, storage methods, purchasing places and much more.
But before we start, you must be wondering how to pronounce guanciale. Well, the correct pronunciation of guanciale is [WAHN-chall-eh].
Now let’s dive right into the article.
History of Guanciale
Originating from a small town called Amatrice in the Lazio region of Italy, this savoury lean meat is more popular than ever today, especially in the UK. And rightly so, it’s finger-licking good and a go-to for many chefs around the world to create mouth-watering recipes.
What is Guanciale?
Guanciale is an infamous, versatile and beloved cured pork item that can arguably be termed the king of Italian cuisine.
Whether it’s a savoury dinner or a late-night snack, adding guanciale to your recipes can be a long-desired blessing for your taste buds.
You can cut it in thin slices as an uncooked snack, or if you’re feeling adventurous, cut it into small cubes to fry them. The lard element in guanciale can be a great natural, better substitute for cooking oil. And as it quickly melts when subjected to direct heat, you’ll have no problems cooking it without using oil at all.
However, always remember to take the skin off before consuming it.
Why Use it?
There is an age-old battle in the culinary world of Italian cuisine between guanciale and pancetta.
The former being jowl meat, and the latter being belly meat from a pig. Of course, people prefer one of the other, some even call them the same, but there is are many noticeable differences.
Guanciale is a clear winner in our books, though, as it incorporates a juicier and more savoury flavour than its counterparts.
Its unique texture and elevated nuances deserve the chef’s kiss and praise from many renowned cooking professionals, especially in Italy.
You may have encountered a salesperson or a butcher who tried to sell your cheek/jowl meat. And there is a high probability that you ignored them, thinking who in the world would eat cheeks. But believe us when we tell you that you’re missing out on a wonderful experience.
Head over to an Italian butcher shop, and ask for a fresh batch of Guanciale in the UK. And we are highly certain that you’ll find a soft spot for this delicious treat.
To put everything in perspective, take bacon, for example. We all love bacon as part of a rich breakfast or making a delicious bacon sandwich during the day to fulfil your cravings.
Guanciale is the juicier and tastier big brother of bacon and offers an unparalleled, unique, fulfilling, and exquisite taste.
It makes a good substitute for bacon and adds a memorable richness to every recipe for a fine dining experience.
Benefits of using guanciale
We think it’s safe to say that guanciale offers more savoury luxuries than health benefits. Even though the high-fat content makes it good for people trying to gain weight, some people may be repulsed by the idea of it due to their dietary routine.
So, it is entirely up to you to make the most out of this treat in a beneficial manner.
Remember, excess of everything is bad. So while consuming guanciale, make sure you add the optimum amount to your recipes to enjoy your food without feeling sick later.
Are you wondering how long does guanciale last? We have some beneficial information for you.
Fat tends to get stiff and can cause a horrendous smell if exposed to room temperature for long. And since guanciale has a significant volume of fat content, it is best to refrigerate the product even if you haven’t opened it yet.
This practice will not only extend guanciale’s shelf life, but it’ll also help preserve its original taste. Wrap the product tightly in vacuum-sealed packaging before putting it in the fridge for maximum results.
It is very much possible to keep thinly cut slices of guanciale on the go. But once cut, the meat has a lifespan of around 14 days, and you must consume it before that time limit.
Furthermore, many people opt for the freezer route to ensure that guanciale doesn’t go bad. In such a cold environment, no bacteria grow on the surface of the meat, keeping it hygienic and healthy. However, prolonged freezing may lead to loss of texture, taste and smell, so be wary of that.
Frozen guanciale can last up to two years in your freezer, while refrigerated guanciale stays good for about six months. You can choose between the two depending on your requirements.
Is guanciale safe to eat?
Yes. Like any other pork cut, guanciale is safe to eat for most people unless they have high cholesterol issues. Since guanciale is extra rich in fat, it contains tons of calories that could be problematic for someone on a prescribed diet.
Other than this, there are no major side effects that you should worry about anytime soon.
The ideal way to ensure that you’re purchasing a safe product to eat is by making a healthy relationship with your vendor. You’ll have peace of mind when you get your guanciale from a trusted source through a transparent purchasing procedure.
Why is guanciale better than pancetta?
They both are a significant part of Italian cuisine but have a fair share of differences. As we know by now, guanciale comes from pig cheeks/jowls, and on the other hand, pancetta comes from pork belly.
This difference is the primary reason the former has a lot more fat content than the latter.
Another difference lies in the curing process, where multiple spices and salts (sometimes garlic) are used to treat guanciale. On the contrary, curing pancetta requires salt and pepper only.
Lastly, it is a known fact among the culinary community that guanciale is far superior to pancetta in every aspect, especially when used in a carbonara. But since guanciale is not readily available outside Italy, pancetta is the preferred option for many who like a nice meaty pork touch in their meals.
What are some common substitutes for guanciale?
If you’re looking for a guanciale substitute, there is some good news and some bad news.
The good news is you have many options you can choose from, like opt for pancetta or simple bacon to add the meaty texture to your recipes. Another option can be Lardo that brings a buttery flavour in the mix to keep things interesting.
But the bad news is, none of the alternatives is as good as guanciale. This cured meat is an icon on its own, with a huge fan base that truly appreciates the quality it offers.
In saying all that’s above, it is always good to experiment with your food, especially if you have a knack to treat your taste buds to new adventures.
It is also possible that you may like a guanciale substitute more than guanciale itself. Hence try different things and make a verdict for yourself for the best results.
How do you cook guanciale?
Guanciale is a primary ingredient in many Italian recipes, and it has cemented its place in luxury cuisine over the years.
When the Italians first started using jowl meat, they didn’t have access to refrigeration services that could keep the product fresh for very long. So curing the meat in the form of guanciale was a great way to increase the shelf-life and practicality of the product.
Another thing guanciale offered was a significant amount of lard that drips down into a liquid form when subjected to heat, making a great substitute for regular cooking oil.
These factors made guanciale a hit instantly, with many people opting for this strategy to preserve their meat, especially if it’s a high-quality cut.
All this information is a precedent to the correct way of cooking guanciale.
Here is a step by step process for your convenience:
- First, cut the meat into cube-shaped pieces and add it to the pan
- Heat the pieces on low to medium heat until they turn brown
- Please wait for the fat to melt into the pan so it can add its savoury flavour to the guanciale
- Once you’re done, you can add this to any recipe you like
Since guanciale makes a great add-on or base of most recipes, you have tons of options to choose from, giving you the freedom to conduct experiments while on your cooking adventures.
For starters, you can make the infamous guanciale pasta that has won the hearts of many food lovers worldwide.
Where to buy guanciale UK?
If you’re looking for “where to buy guanciale UK”, an Italian butcher or marketplace can be your best bet. If you don’t want to step out, another option can be ordering a pork cut online from a trusted source such as Amazon.
Make sure that you ask as many relevant questions from the seller as possible to satisfy your concerns regarding your purchase’s sourcing and curing procedure.
To conclude our extensive article, let’s revisit the key points we discussed.
First, guanciale is the king of pork cuts, and if you haven’t tried it yet, you should purchase a piece from a trusted source to add deliciousness to your daily life.
Secondly, guanciale’s unique texture, sublime taste and rich history make it a significant part of Italian cuisine, matched by none.
And lastly, to get the ideal taste out of your food every time, make sure to follow the recipe we provided above strictly.
We hope this article helped you understand the necessary details about guanciale and your next guanciale buy will be much easier. Cheers!
Ever since I started cooking I’ve been fascinated by how different people’s techniques are and how they best utilise the ingredients around them. Even the person living next door will have their own unique way of frying an egg or cooking a salmon fillet.
This fascination led me on a journey across the globe to discover the countless practices and traditions the world of cooking has to offer. I thought you’d enjoy and find value in sharing that journey with me so I created Cooked Best!