Guanciale is an Italian cured meat product prepared from pork jowl or cheeks. Its name derives from “guancia”, the Italian word for cheek. The cheek is rubbed with salt and spices (typically ground black or red pepper, thyme or fennel, sometimes garlic) and cured for three weeks or until it loses approximately 30% of its original weight. Its flavor is stronger than other pork products, such as pancetta and its texture is more delicate. Upon cooking, the fat typically melts away, giving great depth of flavour to the dishes and sauces it is used in.
Pork cheek is one of the essential ingredients for the preparation of various dishes, including pasta such as Carbonara, Amatriciana and Gricia. Also excellent for filling sandwiches, wraps, focaccia and fried gnocchi, Guanciale is a good companion of aperitifs and picnics.