The minute I heard about guanciale (cured hog jowl, aka Roman bacon) I knew I was destined to make it. Maybe it was all the Charcutrepalooza madness of last year, but it seemed that everyone I know was making, cotta, or duck prosciutto or some other sort of fascinating cured meat. I knew that the way we eat normally didn't really call for a lot of cured meats as I mainly cook Indian vegetarian food, but I couldn't resist the challenge.
I decided to make guanciale, mainly because I wanted to try something unusual and something that could be used easily in a sauce. I learned that there are two sauces that were made for guanciale. One is Carbonara. The other is A'matriciana. Carbonara with it's bacon and eggs and cheese always reminds me of breakfast in a bowl (not that there's anything wrong with that) but I wanted something that would have a definite dinner vibe. I decided I'd take my guanciale and turn it into Pasta A'matriciana.
Of course, when I did my guanciale research, the one thing I learned for sure was that everything goes better with fresh pasta, especially guanciale. So right then and there the big pasta machine search began. I had a lot of time to hunt since making one's own guanciale takes at least 6 weeks. In fact, making one's own guanciale is sort of like ordering a wedding gown, only fattier, and with glands.
The hog jowl needs to be ordered (takes about a week) cleaned up and cured (1 week) Then comes the part when the
Here's What You Need:
8 oz of guanciale, bacon, pancetta or proscuitto
1 lb of pasta
1 red onion
1 large can of San Marzano type Italian tomatoes
1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes
Pecorino Romano cheese
Here's What To Do:
Chop the guanciale or bacon into 1/4 inch pieces.
When the pan is hot add in the guanciale/bacon and render it down slowly until it's crispy and brown.
Keep the fat. Yes, you heard me keep it. You will be using it to cook the rest of the sauce. Needless to say, this is not something you want to be doing too often. Also, if it makes you feel any better, (less guilty, more healthy) you can pour off some of the fat before moving ahead.
Toss in the chopped red onion and cook them down until they're translucent.
Add in the San Marzano tomatoes and the red pepper flakes.
The thing about San Marzanos is that these are the very, very, very, best, no contest canned tomatoes one can get anywhere. In fact in many cases they're better than any fresh tomatoes available. They're grown on the slopes of Vesuvius and you can read about them here. Don't be fooled by brands that are grown here in the US , sorry to say, I've tried them and they just ain't the same.
Squish the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon (always always use a wooden spoon when cooking tomato sauce as metal will tarnish the flavor) and cook them down a bit until the sauce thickens. This takes about 10 minutes or so add in the cooked gunaciale or bacon, heat it up and you're ready for business.
Patsy was waiting hopefully. She was trying to blackmail me into giving her some by stealing a stick of kindling from the fireplace stack. It didn't work.
Cook the fresh pasta, (fresh cooks in about 3 minutes or so). You'll know it's done when the pasta floats to the top of the pot.
Put the pasta in a bowl and ladle the sauce over it. Sprinkle everything with some grated Pecorino Romano and serve it up.
Coming up next, South Indian Shrimp with a tasty twist. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori