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Guanciale


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Pancetta may make a fine Carbonara, but guanciale, salt cured pork jowls, makes it a heavenly dish. I believe guanciale is available at Salumeria Biellese in Manhattan, but there must be other sources in the USA. Who knows where to order guanciale?

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Pancetta may make a fine Carbonara, but guanciale, salt cured pork jowls, makes it a heavenly dish. I believe guanciale is available at Salumeria Biellese in Manhattan, but there must be other sources in the USA. Who knows where to order guanciale?

I get mine at Salumeria Biellese, and it is quite good if not the best I have ever had. Guanciale is by far my favorite salume in the bacon/pancetta family. AFAIK, it is not widely known nor appreciated in the US. Wouldn't surprise me if it were unavailable by mail order.

Beyond Carbonara, it is great in Bucatini all'Amatriciana and I like to use it when I make spaghetti with sauteed baby artichokes... Also wonderful sauteed with brussels sprouts.

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Mind sharing your recipe or any secrets that will result in a really good Carbonara. I've had some horible versions of late when I order it out - either too dry and a sticky mess or too watery and a soupy mess. I would like to give it a try at home.

johnjohn

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IMO the best carbonera has just 4 ingredients: a superior pork product (guanciale preferred), black pepper, egg, and parmesan cheese. OK, EVOO and pasta makes 6 I guess.

Saute your pork in EVOO while cooking pasta. Be sure to scoop out 1/2 cup or so of pasta cooking water before draining the noodles. Drop pasta in the pan of pork and grease and toss, add a wee bit of water. Just to moisten, not to make soup. Add eggs and toss. When eggs are set, add cheese and toss. Add a little more water if it's too dry. Oh and lots and lots of black pepper. More cheese at table.

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IMO the best carbonera has just 4 ingredients: a superior pork product (guanciale preferred), black pepper, egg, and parmesan cheese. OK, EVOO and pasta makes 6 I guess.

Saute your pork in EVOO while cooking pasta. Be sure to scoop out 1/2 cup or so of pasta cooking water before draining the noodles. Drop pasta in the pan of pork and grease and toss, add a wee bit of water. Just to moisten, not to make soup. Add eggs and toss. When eggs are set, add cheese and toss. Add  a little more water if it's too dry. Oh and lots and lots of black pepper. More cheese at table.

Bravo(a?) ecr. That's it perfectly johnjohn. The only question if how much you like your eggs cooked. I prefer them still a bit runny. Those more paranoid about eggs often leave the heat on while tossing the eggs with the pasta. I don't. You just have to move fast to be sure the pasta is still warm enough to cook the eggs.

I have seen it prepared with cream in the USA. Disgusting. :angry:

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In Atlanta, Whole Foods carries it in (I think) vacuum-sealed packages. Those of you familiar with guanciale: what should I be looking for in terms of appearance, texture and taste?

It might be worth pointing out that St. Mario provides a recipe/method for home-curing in The Babbo Cookbook. I don't remember it point-by-point, but my recollection was that it was something a home cook could handle.

Like Varmint, I am salivating. I will have to check out both these possibilities.

Edit: Having racked my brain for a few minutes (I couldn't remember why I didn't jump right up and start curing immediately upon reading Mario's recipe), I realized that the one thing that might be harder to find than guanciale would be fresh pork jowl.

Also: in The Babbo Cookbook, Mario lists his father's shop in Seattle as a place to get all kinds of cured meats. There is no website listed, but there was a phone number and address. I don't keep a copy of the book in my office (:shame:), but maybe someone has one handy.

Dave Scantland
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dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Salivating for the 4th time today, all due to eGullet threads.

Is there a website for Salumeria Biellese?

No web site of which I am aware. If you'd ever been there... they don't exactly seem like a "web site" kind of place. Anyway, they do have a telephone number... and since they supply a lot of NYC restaurants with salumi, I am betting you could get them to fax you a price list and ship you some stuff. Besides their wonderful guanciale, and among many other things, they also have culatello, speck, cotechino and my favorite: zampone. I mean, how can you possibly go wrong with a sausage stuffed into a pig's foreleg?

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I have seen a lot of strange things added in the name of Carbonara.

I am not a huge authenticity freak, but I just think cream spoils it, and mushrooms are fairly pointless. I've had it with the addition of onions (not bad, but a bit unnecessary) and a hint of chilli (Again not too bad).

My recipe possibly gilds the lily slightly, but I like it!

For enough pasta for 2 (Carbonara is not a thing to make for a feast - it is hard to make succesfuly for too many people). I like linguini, I suppose Spaghetti is traditional and some people like penne, or bucatini.

2 eggs + 1 yolk (Or 3 eggs, or 2, doesn't really matter - But I like the extra yolk)

About 100g of your favourite cured pork product, in cubes

Butter (Unsalted)

White wine, or vermouth - about a wineglass

Parmesan (Or a mix of Parmesan and Pecorino is good - It adds a touch of sharpness and sweetness)

Nutmeg - Some disagree, but I think this is essential.

Put on your pasta to cook. The whole thing should take about as long as the pasta.

If your bacon/pancetta has the rind, cut it off and place in the pan with a small amount of oil. Heat over a medium heat until the fat renders out and it has started to crisp up. You can now take this out. If yours is rindless (Or you are using one of those packs of lardons) then it doesn't really matter. Put in the bacon, over a low heat and allow the fat to render out slowly before turning up the heat to crisp it up.

Beat the eggs in a bowl along with a couple of handfuls of parmesan, and generously add black pepper (No salt though - not with all that cheese and bacon!) and nutmeg to taste (Not too much, it can be overpowering, a couple of scrapes with the grater should do it)

Add the wine/vermouth to the pan and allow to reduce down until it is quite syrupy and then add a good knob of butter.

Drain the pasta and return to the hot pan (Not on the heat!) pour over the bacony buttery wine (sounds tasty on its own!), stir in and then quickly tip in the egg/cheese mixture. Vigorously stir until every piece of pasta is coated. Then eat!

I don't tend to add extra cheese, but a healthy extra grind of pepper is good.

It's not the most exact recipe, as it sort of evolved, and I tend to just guess on amounts.

PS

I have a confession, I did make one recently with cubes of chorizo. Not bad, but it was a very odd colour from the paprika. Most disturbing.

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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Does anyone have a definitive answer to the origins of the dish?

I've heard both that it is an ancient traditional dish of italian woodcutters, and that it was invented for American serviceman in WW2.

Or is it something in between?

PS

I feel that a controlled hand with the nutmeg can do wonders to many pasta dishes, I know the french don't like it. So it must be good!

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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You can order guanciale from Niman Ranch. A friend sent me some recently, and so far I've only used it in a frittata and for lardons (poached thick chunks, then fried crisp...used pork fat to saute broccoli rabe and added lardons). It's a little different from the piece of illegal Italian guanciale I have in the freezer (carried through customs stuffed down a chef's pants)...more herbs on the outside, a little thinner and more streaky. And the Italian stuff still has a few bristles.

000000422.jpg

Jim

olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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I've ordered the Niman Ranch guanciale twice in recent months, I like it so much. And last Friday I got some from Salumi when I was there in person. They're both really good, but rather different. I need to try them side by side to see if I prefer one over the other.

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Re bastardized versions of carbonara, I see a lot of recipes in the US with peas or asparagus. I think that's inspired -- albeit subliminally -- by tuna noodle casserole.

I had it once in a cafe in Liguria that garnished it with diced tomato. They were a bit defensive, since it wasn't traditional, but the reasoning was the acid countering the rich and they were correct about it working. Esp during very hot weather, which it was.

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Doesn't "carbonara" mean coal miner or charcoal maker? I always thought the reference in the title of the dish was to a noun relating the dish to the working people with whom it was first associated, like puttanesca.

The Roman recipe also includes, unsurprisingly, some pecorino romano.

I find that cracked pepper suits the dish better than ground pepper.

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned that spaghetti alla carbonara is sometimes offered in Italy made with smoked bacon, perhaps leading to its association with American GI's (bacon and eggs).

Salumeria Biellese's guanciale, like Niman Ranch's, is available by the piece. The last piece I got there was about $20, which compares favorably with buying a few slices of pancetta here and there on the East Side of NYC.

Who said "There are no three star restaurants, only three star meals"?

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Doesn't "carbonara" mean coal miner or charcoal maker? I always thought the reference in the title of the dish was to a noun relating the dish to the working people with whom it was first associated, like puttanesca.

The exact birth is lost in time. That is how the silly American GI story came to be. It is likely a dish with such readily available ingredients evolved on farms throughout Lazio and central/southern Italy. Did the coal miners eat it? Certainly. Most of the historians I have read think it refers to the coal or charcoal like flecks of pepper. As the case of puttanesca, it is much more probable that the dish was invented first and then associated with a group later and renamed. Often the same sauce has more than one name in different regions.

The Roman recipe also includes, unsurprisingly, some pecorino romano

Very true, but I find most of the pecorino available in the US too salty so I usually stick to reggiano here.

I find that cracked pepper suits the dish better than ground pepper.

Absolutely - and it looks more like carbone!

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned that spaghetti alla carbonara is sometimes offered in Italy made with smoked bacon, perhaps leading to its association with American GI's (bacon and eggs).

Pancetta affumicato is popular in Calabria an they often make this dish with it. The pancetta, like the Calabrians has spread all over Italy.

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Doesn't "carbonara" mean coal miner or charcoal maker? I always thought the reference in the title of the dish was to a noun relating the dish to the working people with whom it was first associated, like puttanesca.

Although coal = carbone and charcoal = carbone di legna, the only dictionary reference I can find for the word carbonaro/a is for members of a quasi-secret society similar to Freemasonry, the Carbonari. A coal miner is simply a minatore di carbone. That said, "-aro" endings are indicative of an activity or profession, so clearly someone in the family had something to do with coal or charcoal. The materials I have seen on the Carbonari give carbonaro as "charcoal burner" (burner = maker) and this seems a reasonable assumption (it is odd that this meaning doesn't appear in the Zingarelli dictionary, though).

Whether or not this is a dish that was associated with people who made charcoal, or whether the name is a more poetic allusion to the cracked pepper representing flakes of coal or ashes is a question for the philosophers... I am rather inclined towards the latter interpretation, which is why pepper is such an important part of the dish for me.

I am not so sure whether I believe that many of these dishes were actually associated with the professions or activities after which they are named. Call me crazy, but I have a hard time imagining a common prostitute stirring anchovies in olive oil until they break down, adding tomato, capers, olives, etc...

It is also interesting to note that most dishes so named are named after the woman in the case of dishes like penne all'arribbiata ("angry woman's penne" or "penne in the style of the angry woman") or the wife of the working man in the case of dishes like pollo alla cacciatora (hunter's wife's chicken -- strangely changed to "hunter's chicken" in America where it is known as "chicken cacciatore). Shows you who was doing all the cooking...

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Following on with the Pecorino/Black pepper thread,

Nigella Lawson has a pasta recipe in her last book which was simply pasta, grated pecorino, and copious amounts of black pepper (Presumably Olive oil and/or butter as well, can't remember).

Has anyone else tried this? (She reccomends adding a touch of lemon juice if you use Parmesan instead of Pecorino)

Anyone else know any other recipes requiring a more than liberal hand with the pepper? I have a couple of indian recipes where black pepper is the dominant flavour, but how about more european cusine? And wasn't pepper very expensive in ancient times? Would a recipe requiring so much pepper really be a 'Peasant dish'?

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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Following on with the Pecorino/Black pepper thread,

Nigella Lawson has a pasta recipe in her last book which was simply pasta, grated pecorino, and copious amounts of black pepper (Presumably Olive oil and/or butter as well, can't remember).

Has anyone else tried this?

Sounds like spaghetti cacio e pepe to me -- a Roman dish. It should be made only with sheep's milk cheese, IMO. Delicious and simple.

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This is called Cacio e Pepe and is a staple of the Roman diet. The trick to making it is to add just the right amount of the pasta water. It is simple and delicious.

Don't forget pasta is not really a ancient dish in Italy.

Edit: posted at the same time as slkinsey.

Edited by Craig Camp (log)
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