Me, Sher, and Ad

Me, Sher, and Ad
Bro Adam and sis Sher, my rocks!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Guanciale, DiBruno Bros, and 1732 Meats

OK, OK I have to say it and it's a bit sacrilegious, but this Jewish guy likes bacon. and furthermore, I like most pork products! I'd say my Jewish mother Abby may be rolling over in her grave but I know she isn't. She once told me she could eat bacon and not feel guilty because it was sooo good AND it didn't look like a pig. What??? LOL. OK Mom. And I am my Mother's child because I now use that same justification! :)

For John's birthday back in November, I decided to get him a huge cheese box from DiBruno Brothers on Chestnut Street in Philly filled with his favorite Italian foods and some new ones too. Since I call him the Big Ragu and he is the most Italian person I know, I knew it'd be sure fire hit. Inside was the prerequisite sharp provolone, a rustic hot soppressata dry sausage, balsamic glazed figs, lupini beans, Italian long hot peppers, guanciale, and a bunch of other awesome foods! For those who do not know what guanciale is, it's an Italian cured meat similar to pancetta. It comes from the pork jowls, or cheeks. Whatever you use pancetta for, you can substitute guanciale but guanciale has a richer, more rustic flavor. More info on guanciale can be found here:

Trivelli pasta
When I arrived at Dibruno's, I knew that I was searching for something different for the birthday basket. One can get overwhelmed by all of the cheeses there but I knew I couldn't go wrong with a sharp provolone. That's like this nice Jewish boy (ME) not buying gefilte' fish for Passover! I also knew that I wanted something in addition to the normal dry sausage which I usually pick up. After spying it in the refrigerator, I asked the counter guy what guanciale was. He explained it's similarities to pancetta and was extremely helpful and informative.

I have to say that DiBruno Brothers is always among the most hospitable places I have been too. Always willing to help, always giving a sample, always giving suggestions. So I picked up the guanciale, the sharp provolone, and the Dibruno's cheese box full of the other goodies. The gift was a definite hit!

I later made an incredible dinner using the guanciale. I found a recipe online from the Brooklyn Chef Carlos Mirarchi from the well known restaurant, Roberta's, in Brooklyn. I made "Pasta with Guanciale and Tomatoes", a flavorful yet simple recipe which appears below. I used trivelli pasta by Lucio Garofalo instead of the rigatoni pasta which was called for below. The guanciale was chewy, salty and smokey. It had an earthy meaty flavor, definitely richer than pancetta. I paired the meal with a 2009 Cosi Chianti Classico Riserva. Although give me a good chianti and I'm happy!

After some subsequent research, I found that the guanciale I bought at Dibruno's comes from 1732 Meats, an artisanal charcuterie in Landsdowne, PA. I actually had the pleasure of meeting one of the proprietors, Ari Miller, over this past winter when I stopped into DiBruno Brothers at their original location in South Philly. Ari was sauteing up some of his gourmet bacon out front street side! DiBruno Bros carries products from 1721 Meats. I enjoyed meeting Ari. You can really tell when someone is so passionate about their business and product. Before I went in, I sampled jalapeno bacon, black peppercorn bacon, garlic bacon, and Spanish smoked paprika bacon. Each was unique with it's flavors which completely enhanced the bacon taste without overwhelming it. My favorites were the jalapeno and the black peppercorn. Ari's website has his number and email to contact for any questions.

You always need a good wine. :)


(alla Chef Carlo Mararchi of Roberta's in Booklyn)

1 package pasta (about 1 pound); the original recipe called for Rustichella D'Abruzzo rigatoni pasta
1 jar (1 pound) canned pomodorini (cherry tomatoes), crushed
1/2 tspn salt
1/2 tspn red pepper flakes
Thinkly sliced (lardon cut) red onion
***Lardon cut refers to the shape, specifically matchstick or cube shaped.
6 oz guanciale cut in lardons (The original recipe used another brand of guanciale. I used guanciale from 1732 Meats bought at DiBruno Brothers with great success.)
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup freshly and finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese (or Parmigiano Reggiano as a substitute)

The finished recipe! 

  • sauté the guanciale and onion in the olive oil in a large sauce pan until just crisped and golden. Stir salt into tomatoes and add to guanciale in pan with red pepper flakes. Cook and stir over medium heat until beginning to thicken.
  • In the meantime, boil the pasta in abundant salted water until on the hard side of al dente. Scoop out of the water with a perforated ladle and add to sauce. Stir in couple of tablespoons of grated cheese. Continue to simmer the sauce and pasta until the pasta is al dente. Taste and correct seasoning. Serve in warm bowls with more cheese.

    1. Been to DiBruno Bros. many times. everything is delicious.... to me, the Italian market on 9th St in South Philly is a touch of what it must have been like in the "old world".


    2. Nice job Bro, despite me being the LAST of the non-pork eaters in our family (NO feedback necessary from the "peanut Kehoe gallery").........hugs from Big Sis.

    3. Hi Mark, I always enjoy your blog. Matthew would enjoy this recipe as he dislikes heavy sauces on his pasta. I keep my own tomatoes in the freezer and have a few left. I tried to save the recipe and the wine choice without success. Maybe you can email it to me. I have decided you should do a cook book with all these great recipes. I was listening to a blogger on Channel 69 news this morning discussing the do's and don'ts of blogging and I said to Matthew "Mark does all those "do's" - colorful pictures, catchy first page, interesting reading, keep it short etc. She is promoting her book and she said that blogging is the way to do it. I enjoyed it. Morag