After three weeks hanging up in my basement, the guanciale finally was ready to use this week. I used it in pasta carbonara, using Marcella Hazan's recipe from _Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking_. It was fantastic! The guanciale was slightly sweet with a mellow pleasant flavor. It is slightly reminiscent of proscuitto, but mainly in its scent; the flavor and texture were quite different. It really makes carbonara into a totally different dish from both the bacon and pancetta versions. The guanciale was pretty dry around the edges, but I cut off the driest parts and the wine in the recipe hydrated the guanciale just enough. Because of the hydration by the wine, I think I could have used the jerky like pieces and they would have been tender enough.
I am going to make bucatini amatriciana next week - I am super excited to see how it turns out. I can only imagine it will be awesome.
Beyond that, I will have a decent portion of guanciale left. I think I may see how it freezes. 1 jowl is about 2 pounds and after salting and drying I would guess they weigh between 1 and 1.5 pounds. I made two of my five jowls into guanciale.
The process of making it is really quite easy, so as long as you can get your hands on some jowls ( i got mine form a pig farmer at my farmer's market) and have a cool dry place to hang them, I would highly recommend giving it a try.
For the previous thread see: