Pretty ‘n pink: one pound of guanciale, waiting to be rendered and cooked with.
Guanciale is the cured jowl of the hog, a fatty cut that begs to be used as the fat component of such famous Central Italian recipes as spaghetti all’Amatriciana. It has a funky, lardy flavor that nicely underpins a rich tomato sauce, adding glue to the recipe as well…
I earlier extolled the virtues of the guanciale purchase from Salumeria Biellese on West 29th Street, but that’s no longer the only guanciale game in town.
Gabe Ross, of Chelsea Market’s Dickson Farmstand Meats, has been curing his own guanciale lately. It comes in a thick white roll tied up with string, featuring nuggets of meat inside. “It’s not cured as long as Salumeria Biellese’s,” he noted. “So keep it in the refrigerator.”
I decided to cop a pound and give it a road test. I’d bought a passel of late-season brussels sprouts at Union Square, smaller and more delicate than their earlier-season counterparts, along with a few fingerling potatoes, and decided to combine the two in a vegetable medley. The guanciale would provide the perfect lubricant.
I cut the guanciale into tiny fingers and tossed it in a non-stick frypan. Gabe’s product seemed to have a higher smoke point than the more extensively cured product–and a consequently milder flavor. Cutting the potatoes in rounds, and cutting the larger brussels sprouts in half, I dumped the vegetable into the pan soon after the guanciale started to melt, then put a lid on the pan, so that the potatoes and sprouts steamed and sauteed simulataneously. With a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, the results proved spectacular, as you can see from the picture below.
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