Guanciale how to cook it: all the methods of the Chefs

As the term itself implies, the guanciale is the pig’s cheek, and in the kitchen, it can be prepared in many ways.

Being a decidedly versatile ingredient, it becomes the perfect ingredient in numerous recipes for first and second courses. We must also not forget that it is cheap and readily available from the butcher and in any supermarket.

It is also totally edible and contains fat, salt, natural flavors, zinc, potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium but is low in vitamins and carbohydrates. It provides 665 calories per hundred grams of product and can be sold cut into cubes, sliced, or whole. The first version is usually available in plastic packaging.

But how can you best appreciate and satisfy the palate of young and old? In this practical guide, you will find numerous valuable tips on cooking it and storing and choosing it.

How to cook bacon: cooking methods and times

Guanciale is a seasoned cured meat consisting of a cut of lean meat (usually the muscle) and a precious part of fat.

Compared to pancetta, it has a much more intense flavor and a firmer texture. These characteristics are due to the natural maturation, the different processing stages, the salting, the spicing, and the final binding.

In addition to being delicious on its own, it can become a tasty ingredient to add to many recipes.

The most famous is undoubtedly pasta alla carbonara or bucatini all’amatriciana. But it is also excellent for making savory pies, sauces, and much more delicious. Just let yourself be guided by the inspiration of the moment.

Given the high amount of fat present in the salami, it is advisable to sauté it in a hot pan without adding oil to become even more crunchy.

On the other hand, we do not recommend cooking the salami in the oven, as it would become rubbery and lose most of its flavor and organoleptic characteristics.

What foods to combine with guanciale

The bacon can be combined not only with pasta but also:

  • with legumes,
  • with fresh/aged cheeses,
  • with potatoes and all types of vegetables.

In the following lines, you can find four recipes based on this salami.

Pasta recipe with guanciale, radicchio and gorgonzola

The pasta seasoned with these three ingredients is prepared in a few minutes and is perfect if you have unexpected guests or don’t have the time to schedule an overly elaborate meal.

Ingredients for four people:

  • 400 grams of short pasta to taste (fusilli, penne, Sardinian gnocchetti, etc.)
  • 200 grams of guanciale
  • 200 grams of gorgonzola
  • a head of Treviso radicchio
  • two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • milk to taste
  • two cloves of garlic
  • Salt and Pepper To Taste
  • four tablespoons of Pecorino or grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Preparation

  1. Cut the bacon into cubes and toast it in a hot pan;
  2. Add the radicchio cut into thin slices and brown with a drizzle of oil plus the garlic cloves. Season with salt and pepper;
  3. in a separate saucepan, melt the gorgonzola with the milk and turn off the flame;
  4. cook the pasta al dente in plenty of salted water and drain it in the pan with the radicchio and the bacon;
  5. add the cream of milk and gorgonzola, mix well and sauté everything for a few minutes;
  6. Serve the pasta sprinkled with grated cheese.

Legume soup with guanciale

The legume soup is one of the winter dishes par excellence, as it can heat and satiate in a flash.

The doses are abundant because, in the case of leftovers, it becomes even better the next day. If you want to set up a table with a rustic and welcoming atmosphere, serving it in terracotta bowls is recommended.

Ingredients for four people:

  • 100 grams of cannellini beans
  • 100 grams of borlotti beans
  • 100 grams of lentils
  • 100 grams of broad beans
  • 100 grams of peas
  • 100 grams of chickpeas
  • slices of toast
  • 150 grams of bacon
  • two cloves of garlic
  • Salt and Pepper To Taste.
  • a few sprigs of rosemary
  • a bay leaf
  • extra virgin olive oil

Preparation

  1. Soak all the legumes the night before to soak them, except the peas;
  2. boil the legumes in a pot with water and bay leaf;
  3. when the legumes are cooked, remove bay leaf and pass about a third of the quantity in the blender to obtain a thick cream;
  4. in an earthenware pan, sauté the bacon cut into strips and the clove of garlic together with four tablespoons of oil;
  5. add the legumes, the cream obtained previously, the rosemary, salt, and pepper;
  6. allow the soup to flavor for about ten minutes and add a few spoons of the cooking water from the legumes;
  7. reduce the soup and turn off the flame;
  8. take the toast and rub the garlic clove on the surface to make it tastier;
  9. Serve the soup with raw olive oil, ground pepper to taste, and slices of toasted bread.

Bucatini all’amatriciana recipe

Ingredients for four people:

  • 400 grams of bucatini
  • 200 grams of bacon
  • 400 ml of tomato sauce
  • Grated Pecorino Romano
  • Salt and Pepper To Taste
  • extra virgin olive oil

Preparation

  1. Cut the bacon into strips and fry it in a hot pan greased with a drizzle of oil;
  2. add the tomato sauce, salt, and pepper and reduce the sauce for a few minutes;
  3. cook the bucatini al dente in plenty of salted water;
  4. add the pasta to the sauce, toss it to finish cooking, and serve immediately with the grated Pecorino.

Beef stew with guanciale and champignon mushrooms

The stew is a dish that has always been appreciated, and with the addition of the guanciale, it will become even more so, as the mix of flavor will make it unique and unusual.

It also becomes a great way to get kids to eat vegetables.

Ingredients for four people:

  • 400 grams of beef stew
  • 300 grams of champignon mushrooms
  • 150 grams of bacon
  • vegetable broth to taste
  • half a glass of wine
  • flour to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • garlic
  • sage
  • Rosemary
  • parsley
  • Salt and Pepper To Taste.
  • Laurel

Preparation

  1. Fry the bacon cut into small pieces in a pan greased with a brush of oil together with a clove
  2. garlic and all aromatic herbs;
  3. flour the beef cut into chunks and add it to the bacon;
  4. season with salt and pepper and brown it for a few minutes until it takes on a golden appearance;
  5. add the white wine and let the alcoholic part evaporate;
  6. add three or four ladles of vegetable broth, lower the heat and continue cooking for about two hours. If you need to add more broth so that the meat does not dry out excessively;
  7. in a separate pan, cook the sliced ​​champignon mushrooms together with the chopped parsley, a clove of garlic, salt, and pepper;
  8. when the meat is cooked, add the mushrooms, mix, and serve.

How to choose a good quality guanciale

A piece of guanciale has a triangular shape because obtained from the cheek and throat of the pig.

A cut birthmark, the meat features a high percentage of shiny porcelain-colored fat. There is also a thick layer of rind, which can be seasoned with salt, pepper, or aromatic herbs.

Once you know the main characteristics of this salami, before buying it, it is necessary to take into consideration the following elements:

  1. The firmness of the meat: if the meat is not compact enough to the touch, it is better to leave the product in the shop;
  2. Color of meat and fat: good quality bacon must have a pleasant and inviting aesthetic appearance, starting with the color. If the aforementioned is not bright or, even worse, has veins tending to green or yellow, desist from the purchase and focus on something else;
  3. Smoking: the guanciale can be smoked or not. This choice is optional and must be influenced by your taste. However, the smoked guanciale is characterized by a more intense and rustic flavor, but all consumers may not appreciate it;
  4. Price: a good quality guanciale, although it is cheaper than other cured meats, never has a meager price, except for some temporary promotional offers that are intended to encourage the purchase and testing;
  5. DOP trademark: the DOP trademark (Denomination of Controlled Origin) guarantees quality since producers must comply with specific standards not to lose it. The prestigious brand is clearly shown on the product packaging, and it is, therefore, impossible to get confused;
  6. Aroma: a respectable guanciale emits an intense and pleasant fragrance.

How to store the Guanciale

To preserve the freshness of the guanciale, if sliced, it is recommended to keep it in the refrigerator for a maximum of one day and inside the special paper for cured meats, as it can isolate it from all the other foods present in the appliance.

If it is a slice instead, it is better to prefer a cool, dark, and dry place (a cellar is perfect). Once cut, however, it must be transferred to the fridge for a maximum of one month, taking care to cover the uncovered part with cling film.

Being very rich in fat, this salami tends to deteriorate rather quickly and does not tolerate sudden temperature changes. The same goes for light and direct heat sources, which accelerate the rancidity process.

Difference between Guanciale and Pancetta

The main difference between guanciale and pancetta is in pork cut: the former is obtained from the cheek and neck of an animal with a minimum age of nine months, while the second is from the belly.

Nor should we forget that they are subjected to specific processes that determine a sure consistency and flavor.

The guanciale can be smoked like pancetta, but it has a more robust flavor since it is seasoned with generous doses of pepper and salt. In some regions of Italy, it is also flavored with garlic, rosemary, and sage.

Its seasoning lasts at least three months to allow the formation of a crust on the most superficial layer of the rind.

Conclusion on how to cook Guanciale

Guanciale is delicious food, but given its high caloric intake, it is recommended to consume it occasionally.

Moreover, since it is a cooked salami, everyone can safely eat it, even by pregnant and breastfeeding women.

In addition to 70% fat, we must not forget that it contains a high percentage of salt, and abuse could therefore favor the formation of cellulite, water retention, and heart diseases.