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Guanciale! (Part I)


I don’t remember how I stumbled onto it, but about a year ago I first heard of guanciale via this article.  I was immediately intrigued — a better bacon?  Is that even possible?

Thus began a fixation.  I was desperate to experience it for myself, but chances seemed slim unless I could finagle a trip to Italy.  I even begged Mark’s parents to send some back from their Italy vacation — they sent me a tiny photo instead:

Then, a few months ago here in Houston, Revival Market opened in the Heights.  Their philosophy is to offer organic local meat, raised humanely and sustainably.  Their meat case would make any carnivore salivate.  We have had their Mangalitsa bacon and sausage, and it is incredible.

We happened to be buying some bacon there in April when I noticed that the pig diagram on the chalkboard included guanciale.  “Do you cure your own guanciale?” I asked.  The man behind the counter said “We have some curing now; it will be ready next month.”  I could hardly believe my luck.  Christmas was coming to Houston!

Finally the day arrived that guanciale and I were in the same place.  I knew it would be coming home with me!  Since we had never cooked it and it was priced the same per pound as the beef tenderloin we buy from Whole Foods, we decided half a pound of paper-thin slices would make a good test run.  Look at this beautiful meat:

It wasn’t in the fridge for even 12 hours before we dug in.  Our first experiment was to slowly fry it up like regular bacon, cook some eggs in the grease, and add the guanciale back to the eggs.

It was rich and delicious, but I wasn’t entirely sure I could have distinguished it from Revival’s standard amazing bacon.  I wanted to try something different for the second half of our stash.

Come back Thursday to find out how we got our $25/lb worth!


8 comments to Guanciale! (Part I)

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