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: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guanciale
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. :)|
PASTA with GUANCIALE AND TOMATOES
(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!|