Everything’s better with bacon, right?
If you don’t believe that…this recipe will convert you!
Guanciale (gwan-chalie), an Italian-style bacon made from hog jowl, is a prized gourmet delicacy in central Italy. Typically, it’s dry-cured, hand-coated with fresh cracked peppercorns, then smoked over smoldering hickory logs for nearly 24 hours. The result is a meat with a noticeably richer flavor than typical bacon, and is a popular addition to such classic dishes as spaghetti alla carbonara and pasta all’amatriciana.
I found it with the uncut bacon, and smoked hocks, at Fred Meyer, for about 1/2 the price of good bacon (about $2.50/lb).
Here’s what I do with it:
Grilled Chicken and Guanciale Bacon Alfredo
1 pound dried fettuccine or spaghetti
1/2 lb chicken tenders, brined and grilled
1/2 lb pork cheeks (jowls) bacon, or Guanciale
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp fresh minced garlic
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup finely grated Asiago cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs yolks
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pre-heat oven to 350d
Slice guanciale into 1/2 inch thick slices and place on a rack over a a foil-lined baking pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes until bacon appears crisp at the edges. Remove to paper towels to rest. Reserve the fat in the pan.
Cook the fettuccine in a pot of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente. Drain in a colander, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid. NEVER RINSE YOUR PASTA.
While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and saute until tender, add garlic. Add heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Cook until sauce has reduced slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Roughly chop bacon and return to pan, heat, and then toss cooked pasta with bacon and fat, over medium-high heat along with the reserved cooking liquid. Add the butter-cream mixture, half of the asiago, and chicken, and toss to combine thoroughly.
Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Sprinkle with remaining Asiago and garnish with raw egg yolk.
PS – The raw egg yolk is another Italian thing, and adds an extra layer of richness to the recipe. Once served, break the yolk and gently fold into the dish. Alternatively, you can add the yolks to the pasta along with the sauce and blend it in then.
“The Home Chef: Transforming the American Kitchen” was your overview of the basic concepts and tips for taking your cooking to the next level, but let’s face it, you can only fit so much information into one book!
Each Home Chef Guidebook delves more deeply into the professional quality recipes and techniques of specific cooking styles and cuisines.
This one is all about BACON.