Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pancetta & Guanciale

I must say... what a pity that these two beauties are not available in Singapore! I have been missing them for so long, and finally I managed to put my hands on them on a trip to New York.
Pancetta and guanciale are two fundamental ingredients for Italian cooking. There are a number of sauces and dishes that cannot be accomplished without these beautiful pieces of meat.

Pancetta (the round one in this picture), as the name suggests, is cured pork belly. It can be eaten as a cold cut with bread, but mostly it is used for cooking, diced in small or larger pieces.
Guanciale (the left one in the picture) is cured pork cheek. It is even fatter than pancetta, and used to start off wonderful sauces such as Amatriciana, Carbonara or Bolognese. Sometimes pancetta is used in place of guanciale to cook these dishes due to availability,  however guanciale is even tastier than pancetta and has a different type of fat. Harder when raw, and once cooked you will notice that the fat of guanciale becomes transparent, while the pancetta fat remains white and solid.

In conclusion, if you like any of the sauces mentioned in this post (these are the most popular dishes, but of course there are other ones), try to put your hands on guanciale if you get a chance to travel abroad. And if you are unsure how to use it, bring me a piece of it, and I will be happy to show you ;)
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