A recipe for dry cured guanciale

Big Jim Sullivan would’ve considered guanciale (unsmoked, cured pork jowl) production unthinkable. Cured hog meat always received a long spell in the smokehouse in his rural Kentucky backyard.

Hog jowls bathed in hickory smoke for a week or two were much prized in his wife Nellie Sullivan’s kitchen, and if someone would’ve offered her a rasher of guanciale she would’ve politely declined.

A lot of effort and care went into the Sullivan family’s production of Duroc hogs, and omitting the hickory smoke in their cured meat would not have went over well.

I’ve cured thousands of pounds of heritage pork over the past few years but this marks the first time I’ve ever made guanciale.

A recipe for dry cured guanciale aka cured pork jowl

Ingredients

10.8 lbs (4898 grams) Berkshire or other good breed hog jowls

12.23 grams Sodium Nitrite (.42 ounces) Quick Cure

86.5 grams Salt, kosher (3.05 ounces)

Method

* Thoroughly combine salt and sodium nitrite

* Sprinkle over jowls (be thorough)

* Place jowls on perforated pan or wire grid in fridge

* Make sure there’s a pan beneath the jowls to catch the liquid that will be drawn out by the
sodium

* Every 24 hours flip jowls over

* Do this for 12 days

* Rinse cure off jowls with cold water (be thorough)

* Return to fridge, place on wire grid or perforated pan, allow to dry overnight

* Slice a filet off one of the jowls and fry it in a pan to test salinity

Notes:

  • It’s easy to use this same formula to make hog jowl bacon. Follow this recipe
  • Use the best pork you can source. I’ve developed a network of hog farmers from Texas to Kentucky that we use in our charcuterie production. Do your proper research.
  • I have a stash of several different hardwoods stored underneath our house. I like pecan, oak, hickory, and cherry. I have my eye on a dead, standing plum tree on my grandparent’s farm right now. I’ll be sawing it down come fall. Please source dry, well-aged woods if you plan on smoking your meats.
  • I experimented with using sugar in my cures for various projects over the years but discovered I prefer plain old salt, nitrite, and maybe a little pepper in my cured meats. There are plenty recipes out there that incorporate sweeteners in the formulae.
  • I also make bacon from scratch.

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