Sunday, May 8, 2011

Fatty Pig Cheeks

Earlier this week, I was giving a friend a tour of my home and it dawned on me that there should be a new stop:  the storage unit/meat curing room. My place is small, so usually it’s the living room/kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and patio. Depending on my guest’s interest, I can turn every piece of art into a full-saga, so if I want to draw out the tour, the art usually is where I do it.
But now that I have pork jowls hanging in my basement storage locker, there’s a whole new angle to the tour.  

“It’s a pig jowl. Like fatty pig cheeks.” (I make a hand gesture outlining the jowl area on my own face.) “No, I don’t really know what I’m doing. Yes, I’m going to eat it. No, I’m not afraid I’m going to poison my friends.”
That seems to cover it.
As part of my personal assignment of 12 months of preserving, I made guanciale a few months ago, and one of them is still hanging next to my Christmas decorations and snow shoes. I followed Ruhlman’s recipe precisely, and I am quite pleased with the results. In addition to providing a new stop on the tour, my guanciale is tasty with turnip greens and a fried egg, in pasta, and with leeks as described below.

I had the leeks for dinner with a piece of toast and goat cheese, but I bet it’d be great along-side a halibut steak too.  

Leeks with Guanciale
3 large leeks
4 oz. guanciale, diced
½ cup white wine
  • Julienne the leeks and wash thoroughly by soaking in cold water.
  • Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the guanciale and cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s dark brown and crispy. Remove the guanciale and set aside. Pour off most of the pig fat, leaving a thin coating across the pan.
  • Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until all the excess liquid has evaporated. Continue to cook the leeks until some of them become brown and crispy.
  • Stir in the guanciale.