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I had a similar experience looking for guanciale, though I was told Frank Ruta produces his own.  Mario Batali offers instructions in Molto Italiano, though I would need to find some hog's jowls (Asian grocers in Rockville, perhaps) and be willing to tolerate the odor of hanging meat for several weeks in my refrigerator...and willing to suffer the consequences of trying this myself.

Incidentally, Batali's father, who set Mario up in the cured-meat department in the first place, does produce guanciale at his salumeria in Seattle.

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Are hog jowls also called "maws"? No, not the opposite of "paws" in this case. If so, I saw packages labeled hog maws yesterday at Han ah Reum in Merrifield, next to the hog bungs and hog uteri.

Hog maws are part of the gastrointestinal system of the pig. Asians use them in stews and braises - really good eats after they've been cleaned well. Guanciale is made from the jowl of the pig - think of the meat around the jawbone. There's a place in NYC called Buon Italia in Chelsea Market that sells guanciale at a very reasonable price. I know it's not nearby but you could hop the $25 bus from Chinatown on day go shopping and come back with a bag full of wonderful Italian goodies.

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I picked up some jowls this past Sunday from Cedarbrook Farms at the Dupont farmer's market, and tuesday morning (after they had thawed) I started making the Guanciale.

The cure:

1/2 c kosher salt

1/2 c sugar

5 cloves of garlic, sliced

3 sprigs of rosemary

The two jowls came in one big piece (the entire neck, it seems like) with a fair amount of extra non-jowl meat hanging on. I trimmed off what looked like it needed to go, patted them dry with paper towels, then applied the cure, layering it between the two pieces and on top. Covered with parchment paper then wax paper, and weighted down with a plate and a jar of the failed marmalade that i keep around as an amusing paperweight. It will stay in the fridge for a week, then I pull it out, rinse off the cure, and air dry for 4-6 weeks. Adventures!

Pics are here. There aren't too many, because I had to keep washing my hands off in order to take the pictures.

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Pics are here. There aren't too many, because I had to keep washing my hands off in order to take the pictures.
First, this post ends in a very funny sentence. Second, what fun!

Now, do you know what you're going to do with your guanciale? See if you can get your hands on David Downie's Cooking the Roman Way. Best technique for making carbonara, ever, conditio sine qua non.

And if fava beans are still around ;) when the airing's done, you might be interested in the final recipe here, offered by Russ Parsons, substituting guanciale for the bacon: Creamed fava beans.

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First, this post ends in a very funny sentence. Second, what fun!

Now, do you know what you're going to do with your guanciale? See if you can get your hands on David Downie's Cooking the Roman Way. Best technique for making carbonara, ever, conditio sine qua non.

And if fava beans are still around ;) when the airing's done, you might be interested in the final recipe here, offered by Russ Parsons, substituting guanciale for the bacon: Creamed fava beans.

Thanks for the recipe references. I haven't really thought of how I'm going to use this stuff...obviously it's too much for me to eat on my own. I'll probably do a "breakfast" meal for my dinner group (guanciale and eggs?) and then maybe on another night, try spaghetti all'amatriciana (I've read this is one of the signature guanciale dishes). Might try to get creative too, but we'll see how my cooking schedule looks once they're ready.

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...obviously it's too much for me to eat on my own.
For what it's worth, I've found that guanciale keeps for a very long time. I'm really puzzled as to why that might be, but I've kept guanciale in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped, for over a year without it deteriorating noticeably. It doesn't even develop surface mold. If it were super salty, that might not be so puzzling, but it's generally not. Now, this was guanciale from commercial producers, of course; your home-made results may be different.

I wish you the greatest success in your project.

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For what it's worth, I've found that guanciale keeps for a very long time. I'm really puzzled as to why that might be, but I've kept guanciale in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped, for over a year without it deteriorating noticeably. It doesn't even develop surface mold. If it were super salty, that might not be so puzzling, but it's generally not. Now, this was guanciale from commercial producers, of course; your home-made results may be different.

I wish you the greatest success in your project.

Interesting. I decided to omit the nitrate (cure #2) from my recipe (some places called for it, others said it wasn't necessary), so my guess is that mine will be less fridge-stable than commercial versions, but who knows. I think the aim is to dry it out pretty well, so my guess is that as long as no bacteria gets a foothold early, we should be good to go. I might try to keep it around for a couple months, but I don't know if I would attempt much longer than that.

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Good call, omitting the nitrate. It's not traditional.

As for the deliciousness that is amaritriciana, yes! Instead of spaghetti, look for the long, tubular strands that they call bucatini in Rome where the dish originates. De Cecco sells them under their Sicilian name, perciatelli. To get you psyched: Clicca qui ;) .

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Interesting. I decided to omit the nitrate (cure #2) from my recipe (some places called for it, others said it wasn't necessary), so my guess is that mine will be less fridge-stable than commercial versions, but who knows. I think the aim is to dry it out pretty well, so my guess is that as long as no bacteria gets a foothold early, we should be good to go. I might try to keep it around for a couple months, but I don't know if I would attempt much longer than that.
I think the nitrate is mostly there to maintain a nice color, no? (or is this just my paranoid

vision of how things work ... you want pink, we have pink!)

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Interesting. I decided to omit the nitrate (cure #2) from my recipe (some places called for it, others said it wasn't necessary), so my guess is that mine will be less fridge-stable than commercial versions, but who knows. I think the aim is to dry it out pretty well, so my guess is that as long as no bacteria gets a foothold early, we should be good to go. I might try to keep it around for a couple months, but I don't know if I would attempt much longer than that.

Where are you hanging this stuff to dry? You got a root cellar or a springhouse or something we city folks don't usually have on the grounds?

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Interesting. I decided to omit the nitrate (cure #2) from my recipe (some places called for it, others said it wasn't necessary), so my guess is that mine will be less fridge-stable than commercial versions, but who knows.
Well, there's commercial and commercial. Salumeria Biellese produced some of the long-lived guanciale I wrote of. Would they use nitrates or nitrites? (I really have no idea what the answer to that would be.)
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Traditional...nitrates or nitrites?

Nitrate is traditional, and natural.

In curing, the good bacteria help the nitrate ferment and it is converted into nitrite which then converts into nitric oxide which reacts with myoglobin proteins and imparts the dark red cured meat color.

Prague Powder #1 (TCM (tainted curing mixture), pink salt, the pink shit) is 6.25% sodium nitrite. It is pink so that you don't confuse it with table salt. If you consume more than 2 oz. it will keep your blood from getting oxygen and you will slowly suffocate. You will have a nice rosy complexion upon your death and yet will paradoxically taste “cured.” It is used for fresh cured meats that are cooked or smoked or whatever above 155 F and imparts a characteristic cured flavor associated with hams, salami, bacon...etc.

Prague Powder #2 is 6.25% sodium nitrite and 4% sodium nitrate.

Naturally occurring mineral potassium nitrate or saltpeter has been traditionally used by western civilization to cure meats for, oh, the past 1600 years or so. The chemical compound salt sodium nitrate (#1) has less explosive properties than #2 and make it more reliable for curing meats. Nitrate breaks down more slowly than nitrite and is primarily used for longer dry cured applications which are not heated high enough to kill trichininosis. It also prevents oxidation and more importantly, like #1, the growth of the bacteria that causes botulism. Nitrates are limited to less than 3oz. per 100 lbs or you will be dead. #2 should never be substituted for #1, especially if the product is cooked at a high temperature. Nitrosamines may form and they may cause cancer, though the The National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences has concluded that neither nitrite nor nitrate are carcinogenic.

Like helmets, one probably doesn't need curing salt and won't look traditionally "cool", but they have a purpose and do not hurt.

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Nitrate is traditional, and natural.
For Italians producing pancetta and guanciale?

It looks as if I was in fact mistaken. I thought sodium nitrate wasn't added, but is that just in the production of aged hams such as Prosciutto di Parma? At least that's what this article in Food Arts suggests. I am not John Mackey and definitely not someone who has ever made any form of charcuterie.

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In the end, it was this article about guanciale-making that convinced me to omit the nitrites. The oxidation definitely might be a problem, but I'm not as concerned about aesthetics as I am with the risk of botulism. Since I consider myself pretty decent at sanitization (it's crucial for brewing) and since I'm using jowls from a local producer, I decided to take the risk of omitting them.

I took them out of the cure today, soaked them in a fresh tub of water for 15 minutes, then dried them with paper towels and transferred to a 52F mini-fridge. I just fired it up this evening, so I haven't established yet what the relative humidity will be...the target seems to be 45-50%, but this seems like something that can be fudged a little, since different recipes call for different humidities. I think I'll probably pull one of them in ~4 weeks and see how it is, and then maybe give the other one another couple weeks or so.

Pics are here from this phase.

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Good call, omitting the nitrate. It's not traditional.

As for the deliciousness that is amaritriciana, yes! Instead of spaghetti, look for the long, tubular strands that they call bucatini in Rome where the dish originates. De Cecco sells them under their Sicilian name, perciatelli. To get you psyched: Clicca qui :P .

Thanks for the explanation in the difference in the two pasta names. I had been puzzled by that, as they seemed virtually the same to me.

My favorite place to get that dish is--perhaps oddly--AV Ristorante. I guess I should get there to have it one last time if they're really closing. I've also had a wonderful version of it at Bebo, but I don't doubt ferment everything could match those if he uses his guanciale to make it ;)

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I have a problem. The humidity in the drying chamber is 90%. Not terribly conducive to drying. The problem (I think) is that because the fridge is on a regulator that keeps it at a higher temp than it is accustomed to (50-55), the freezer section doesn't get completely frozen, and so i end up with these condensation drops hanging off the freezer section, humidifying up the whole thing.

Anybody got any ideas? I'm thinking about trying a different fridge (I just picked up a 12 bottle wine aging fridge, that might be big enough for two jowls), but I'd like to see if I can make this one work. Maybe a wick of some sort to get the moisture out? or am i just going to have to lower the temp down to normal fridge temps? (40ish)

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I have a problem. The humidity in the drying chamber is 90%. Not terribly conducive to drying. The problem (I think) is that because the fridge is on a regulator that keeps it at a higher temp than it is accustomed to (50-55), the freezer section doesn't get completely frozen, and so i end up with these condensation drops hanging off the freezer section, humidifying up the whole thing.

I ended up lowering the temp in that fridge to ~47 to minimize the dripping, and i wiped the ceiling down with paper towels every few days. Both of those steps combined to keep the humidity at like 60%, which is good enough for me.

And it's delicious...I've been cooking it up like bacon, but I plan on making bucatini alla amatriciana either monday or tuesday night. PM if you want to barter for some, but I've only got a little bit that isn't already spoken for or currently digesting (one 8oz slab, one 7oz slab).

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Batch 2 was a failure, but thankfully it was just a single jowl. I picked it up the Sunday before the Belgium trip and immediately got it in a cure. The recipe said to cure for 7 days, but since I was leaving for Belgium Thursday night, I figured 4 would probably be enough, and I put it in the drying fridge before I left on Thursday. I had a buddy check on my place and wipe down the ceiling of the mini-fridge every 4 or 5 days, but I think the humidity (70% when i checked on my return) was too high considering the shorter time in the cure...the humidity might have been ok if the cure had enough time to infiltrate the meat, but it was clearly too much in this case. Result: some ugly, funky-ass smelling green, white, and blue mold on the top.

Oh well. At least it was just one jowl. There's always next time.

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So, who knew that pork jowels were so damn big? If you had a two-pound jowel, what would you do? The consensus here on the Pleasant Mountain is to treat it like you would a big slab of pork belly, but I am eager to hear other ideas.

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So, who knew that pork jowels were so damn big? If you had a two-pound jowel, what would you do? The consensus here on the Pleasant Mountain is to treat it like you would a big slab of pork belly, but I am eager to hear other ideas.

With such a fatty cut of meat are there really any other options than to treat it as a belly? You could cure it, but that is nothing different.

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With such a fatty cut of meat are there really any other options than to treat it as a belly? You could cure it, but that is nothing different.
Either make guanciale or treat it like belly (braise, confit, etc)

yeah, roughly what I was thinking.

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I was wondering who might buy that big, honkin' pork jowl that Bruce had for sale yesterday. He also had some packages of caul fat, but I still have some in my freezer.

I got the smaller of two jowels. Also picked up some caul fat since it comes in convenient single-serving size and the (admittedly, vastly less expensive) batch I bought in December has been frozen and thawed too may times even for me.

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Holy shit, Stephanie (aka Mrs. B ) and I conspired to turn that hog jowl into some serious dinner. You should eat this stuff.

The recipe is vague, as it was mostly executed while drinking and arguing and the rub was applied after a late night with two of DC's finest sommelieres, but basically, we made a rub based on this recipe, only we substituted a great deal of five spice powder for the oregano, and smooshed it into the jowl.

After letting the pork rest overnight, we broiled it crisp on both sides and then threw it in a brazing pot on top of onions, apples, pork stock (we bought some neck bones and did a quick and dirty dirty stock) cider and Gewurtztraminer. Stephanie added a little brew of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and some mystery ingredient that looks like plum sauce but isn't to the braise and we shoved a covered pot in a 285 degree oven for three-ish hours.

Meanwhile, we threw some of the wine, lots of the pork stock, a gang of roasted garlic and some caramelized shallots into a pot and made a batch of lentils.

After about three hours, we pulled the jowl, chilled the braising liquid until we could skim the fat, and then re-warmed the meat in the resulting pot liquor. Served over the lentils, it was freakin' unbelievable. One of the best thing we've cooked in a long time. And, though there's an intimidating amount of fat in the raw materials, it renders out nicely.

Jowl makes pork belly taste like health food.

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Holy shit, Stephanie (aka Mrs. B ) and I conspired to turn that hog jowl into some serious dinner. You should eat this stuff.

The recipe is vague, as it was mostly executed while drinking and arguing and the rub was applied after a late night with two of DC's finest sommelieres, but basically, we made a rub based on this recipe, only we substituted a great deal of five spice powder for the oregano, and smooshed it into the jowl.

After letting the pork rest overnight, we broiled it crisp on both sides and then threw it in a brazing pot on top of onions, apples, pork stock (we bought some neck bones and did a quick and dirty dirty stock) cider and Gewurtztraminer. Stephanie added a little brew of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and some mystery ingredient that looks like plum sauce but isn't to the braise and we shoved a covered pot in a 285 degree oven for three-ish hours.

Meanwhile, we threw some of the wine, lots of the pork stock, a gang of roasted garlic and some caramelized shallots into a pot and made a batch of lentils.

After about three hours, we pulled the jowl, chilled the braising liquid until we could skim the fat, and then re-warmed the meat in the resulting pot liquor. Served over the lentils, it was freakin' unbelievable. One of the best thing we've cooked in a long time. And, though there's an intimidating amount of fat in the raw materials, it renders out nicely.

Jowell makes pork belly taste like health food.

Sounds like I need to take mine out of the freezer and cook it. I do have dinner guests coming this weekend. Hmmm, I could add another Eco-Friendly pig course as I already have plans for pork shoulder and ribs on the menu. Sounds like the jowl might be good over a salad with a nice vinaigrette to make it look like health food. :rolleyes:

BTW, how big was your piece of jowl? I know that the one that I have it not a full one.

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Sounds like I need to take mine out of the freezer and cook it. I do have dinner guests coming this weekend. Hmmm, I could add another Eco-Friendly pig course as I already have plans for pork shoulder and ribs on the menu. Sounds like the jowl might be good over a salad with a nice vinaigrette to make it look like health food. :rolleyes:

BTW, how big was your piece of jowl? I know that the one that I have it not a full one.

I am not positive of the size -- it was $7 worth at Eco-friendly, I'd guess a pound-and-a-half. After long cooking and a great deal of fat rendering it yielded only a couple of slices per person (there were six), though it's so rich that you really didn't need much more than that.

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Jowl makes pork belly taste like health food.

That is an understatement!

I did a braise with mine, but a completely different flavor profile.

Dry rub of S&P, rosemary, sage, and a bit of cinnamon for a couple of days.

Seared then braised (about 3 hours) with spices (same as above) along with apples, onions, garlic, and some Gewurtz. that I had open.

Let is cool in the liquid overnight.

To serve it I sliced it and crisped it in a saute pan and served it on a salad with a poached egg.

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mdt said:
That is an understatement!

I did a braise with mine, but a completely different flavor profile.

Dry rub of S&P, rosemary, sage, and a bit of cinnamon for a couple of days.

Seared then braised (about 3 hours) with spices (same as above) along with apples, onions, garlic, and some Gewurtz. that I had open.

Let is cool in the liquid overnight.

To serve it I sliced it and crisped it in a saute pan and served it on a salad with a poached egg.

leave that cure for a couple weeks it makes awesome jowl bacon

---

Spaghetti all'Amatriciana (DonRocks)

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