Un-smoked pig jowl or cheek that is cured and air dried is called Guanciale. This is Italian bacon that is very rich and flavorful.” And now for the rest of the story.” It was time to pay a visit to my good friend Angelo Ibieto. Angelo is the proud and colorful owner, proprietor of ‘Angelo’s Meats’ in Petaluma, California. It is always an adventure in good eats and friendship with our visits. This was a surprise visit so fresh baked focaccia or risotto was not waiting for me. Angelo was in good spirits. He scolded me for not bringing Ms. Goofy on this adventure. Angelo showed me some pork bellies that he had just procured for future bacon. He explained that he bought imported bellies because they were meatier than local bellies. Domestic bellies do not have the meat to fat ratio that his customers want. Normally the bellies come from Denmark and today he had a shipment from Poland shown by the inspectors stamp.
We were talking about pigs and what to does with the head came up. I told him about my experience baking a whole pigs head. Angelo told me that he was curing the cheeks to make some Guanciale. He showed me the cheeks in a curing bucket that were covered in salt and spices. Angelo asked me if I wanted one. I hesitated and before I could reply he grabbed one and wrapped it up. He even threw in a hanging fork. I received some simple instructions and I was set. I loaded up my ice chest and said my goodbyes.
Rinsing the cured cheek of all the spices is the first task at hand. I patted it dry and applied freshly cracked black pepper. I then inserted the hanging fork. Now it just needs to be hung and air dried for at least three weeks. We have a spare room and closet that will be a good place to hide this drying bacon from Oscar, Lucy, and Ms. Goofy. Oh by the way, I did not mention to Ms. Goofy that there is meat hanging in her spare closet. Hopefully she will not read this post for at least three weeks. Stay tuned.