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Apr 19 / scott.campbell

Guanciale Goes to Dinner

I realize this post is a departure but bear with me.  I took the Guanciale home, sliced it rather thick, chopped it up, and slid it into a Cook’s Illustrated recipe for Spaghetti alla Carbonara (in place of the bacon it called for).  It was quick, if a little tense (dumping the raw egg sauce into the hot pasta takes some faith).  It looked like this:

To say it tasted great is beside the point – of course it did: the dish is essentially mac & cheese for adults.  The interesting thing was the Guanciale, which politely upstaged everything else in the dish.  I described the raw flavor of Guanciale as mild in my last post, but once sauteed in olive oil, it packed a tasty punch.  Definitely not bacon, but every bit as rich and rewarding.  My wife wasn’t a fan, describing to distinctive flavor as “stinky”, so I’m sure some people expecting bacon would be disappointed.  Anyway, seeing an ingredient perform so well (from my perspective) was gratifying.

On another non-fermented sausage related topic, I also made the garlic (fresh) sausage master recipe from Charcuterie last Saturday, and it was a hit.  I didn’t even use sacred locally-grown pig – my wife just bought 5lb of pork shoulder from a local store, I ground it, added some garlic, salt, pepper, etc. and we stuffed into the casings.  So simple, and yet I’ve never tasted anything like it.  This raises a question I’ve had since reading Charcuterie: can a normal person like me really taste the difference between store-bought meat and locally-raised, organic meat?  Is the difference the willingness to make stuff myself and use good recipes, or does all the trouble of getting the pig locally really pay off? We’ll probably have to test that at some point soon.

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