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January 16, 2008

NYT on Guanciale

Dominic Armato
Can we consider this the coming out party?

Guanciale has been one of my favorite pet ingredients for a few years now, and until we moved to Baltimore I'd taken its availability for granted. I bought it from Fox & Obel on a weekly basis back in Chicago, but six months into our stay in Charm City I still haven't located a local source. This has led to some extreme measures. But as much as I love cramming six pounds of pig jowls into an already packed refrigerator, I'd much rather this stuff were widely available. I had assumed its scarcity was a function of our new home, but a nice piece in the New York Times seems to indicate that the lack of availability is a national phenomenon. Here's hoping a little high profile coverage like this helps to remedy the situation. The nation deserves face bacon in abundance. In the meantime, I'm more than a little excited about having a couple of new sources to check out.

Incidentally, can I also nominate Bucatini all'Amatriciana as the trendiest pasta of the past six months? It's been our go-to make at home comfort food for years (though I tend to favor a non-traditional rigatoni), and I always had to explain to folks what it was, but I swear that I've seen it on seven or eight different menus since last summer. Is this just my experience, or has it suddenly caught on like wildfire everywhere?


I've come back to your blog after several months and what I see on the first page? A post about Amatriciana...that was also the last topic I left a comment about...
You' ve got a nice piece of guanciale but, as you certainly know, we use the seasoned (and flavored with pepper and herbs http://int.primopiatto.barilla.com/lacucinaitaliana/isaporiregionali/img/33923_pp_it_ilmondodellapasta_isaporiregionali_guanciale145.jpg) one...at least those, like me, from Central Italy...
In Amatrice (the small village where Amatriciana was invented) they rigorously use spaghetti (but thicker than those you usually find in the supermarkets, we call them vermicelli)...neither bucatini nor rigatoni, which are a Roman modification.
Remember to fry the guanciale strips (until they're crunchy) and they leave them out of the skillet beofre adding thw wine, the tomatoes, and the other fixings!
You'll add the fried guanciale when you will be stirring the pasta over the range before serving.
An even quicker alternative: pasta alla "gricia." This variant is from a village a few Km far from Amatrice called Grisciano. Put some garlic in a skillet with abundant olive oil and leave it out when it starts to be golden. Add the guanciale cut in short stripes and abundand black pepper. Keep over the range until the guanciale is golden and crunchy. In the meanwhile you will have already started cooking pasta. Drain the pasta (of course al dente) and stirr it in the skillet over the range for a while and then serve. Of course each commensal is warmly suggested to add abundant pecorino cheese on his/her portion. This pasta is very simple and for this reason guanciale and olive oil quality are crucial...As you might have already thought pasta alla gricia was created before the discovery of America (and of the tomatoes), at least those in Grisciano say...
Ok, I've written to much but a last suggestion...I understand you like to experiment...try Pasta alle sarde...

Yeah, what's pictured here is unseasoned and in need of some drying... which actually kind of irritated me when I received it. I expected the final product, not an intermediary step. Still tasty, just not guanciale, technically.

As for Pasta alle Sarde, if I could get really good, fresh sardines, you'd better believe I would :-)

Hi there

I live in Adelaide, Australia and I have never successfully been able to buy guanciale. My favorite pasta place also just took this off their menu because of supply problems.
Sometimes I feel like I am the only person who knows about this dish!!!

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