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How to make Guanciale: origin, ingredients and recipes

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The term salute was born in the Middle Ages to designate meat and fish preserved in salt: charcuterie is indeed one of the oldest foods, if we think that their most archaic forms date back to the Paleolithic.

Today, charcuterie is part of the Italian gastronomic heritage and among cured ham, mortadella and coppa, we cannot fail to mention the guanciale, a real delicacy whose flavor, aroma and consistency make it a real pride of Italian gastronomy: chance is the main ingredient of first courses such as Carbonara and Amatriciana.

Origin of bacon

The the guanciale is a charcuterie produced with a noble cut of meat strictly pork, taken from the cheek of the pig. In this cut of meat the fat is very precious, particularly consistent and hard, crossed by a few muscular veins.

The origins of bacon I am not, as many think, from Lazio but from Abruzzo: he was born in the region of Amatrice (which until 1927 belonged to the Abruzzo region, then became part of the Lazio province of Rieti and the “Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park”) and Lake Campotosto.

In the past, transhumance was a widespread practice, to allow animals to be fed in a healthy way and thus produce natural and absolutely authentic food.

The shepherds, during the 4 long months of transhumance spent between valleys and mountains, needed rich and energetic food: it seems that precisely in these circumstances it was thought to feed on fat pork cheek after salting and refining.

The shepherds ate the bacon with the tasty Pecorino di Amatrice and, if they had the chance, they also accompanied it with pasta.

From the 18th century, bacon almost became the prince of Italian cold cuts and, with the arrival of the tomato from the Americas, it found its sublimation in one of the tastiest dishes of Italian cuisine: spaghetti all’Amatriciana.

The first step in making bacon is to cut and trim the meat to give it the characteristic triangular shape.

It is then salted for about a week, often massaged, then washed and sprinkled with the tanning, which can vary depending on the region (it is essentially composed of pepper or chilli, garlic and aromatic herbs).

Maturation takes place in cool environments at temperatures between 10° and 15°, for 2-3 months, during which the characteristic brown crust is formed and the lard takes on all its unmistakable flavor.

Guanciale: ingredients and nutritional values

The pillow comes with a typically triangular shapewith the fat white-pink and the pale red flesh: its flavor is strong and peppery, it melts in the mouth and the fragrance reveals all the spices that can be used.

It is also found in stores in rolled or smoked form: in the latter case, the seasoning takes place in front of a fireplace where the fire is fueled by beech and oak wood (this is the case of the Traditional Amatriciano Guanciale).

The ingredients needed to make an excellent guanciale are: pork cheek from pigs aged at least 9 months; salt; pepper; Garlic; sage; Rosemary.

Obviously, the ingredients depend a lot on the recipes of individual butchers scattered all over Italy: for example, the bacon produced in Emilia-Romagna uses only salt.

Bacon is definitely not a lean food and is suggested in low calorie diets that aim to lose weight; likewise, it is not recommended for people suffering from arterial hypertension and hypercholesterolemia, due to the presence of sodium. In any case, it is not harmful to deviate from the rule from time to time and feast on a few slices of bacon, always in moderation.

100 g of product contain 655 Kcal, with 70 g of fat, 25 g of sodium and other mineral salts including potassium, calcium, phosphorus and very little iron. There are also 22 grams of water, 6.4 grams of protein, and small amounts of vitamins A and B1. Bacon is free of carbohydrates and fiber.

Recipes with bacon

The the guanciale is such an excellent and tasty product which can also be eaten on its own, possibly with fried meatballs or on a slice of hot bread on which the fat will tend to melt.

In addition to the most famous bacon-based starters,Tomato and bacon to Gricia until Bacon and eggthis salami pairs wonderfully with intensely flavored cheeses such as Brie and mild Gorgonzola, or with fruits such as mild Kaiser pears or roasted chestnuts, around which the slice of bacon melts revealing an explosive blend of flavors.

It is also an excellent ingredient for preparing main dishes, typically autumn soups or exotic dishes such as couscous revisited.

Among the most recommended wines with guanciale are fruity and fresh reds, including Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Lambrusco di Sorbara and Chianti di Montalbano.

Amatriciana Risotto

To prepare this innovative risotto, you will need:

  • 150 g of bacon
  • 400 g of peeled tomatoes
  • 300 grams of carnaroli rice
  • 50ml white wine
  • 2 liters of vegetable broth
  • 80 g pecorino romano
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. First cut the bacon into strips and heat it in a hot pan until it becomes crispy.
  2. Deglaze with the white wine over high heat and add the tomatoes, crushing them gently with a fork.
  3. Cook for about twenty minutes and in the meantime toast the rice and add it to the prepared sauce. Baste occasionally with vegetable broth, stirring often, until the rice is “on the wave”.
  4. Remove from the heat and add the pecorino romano. Serve hot.

Cream of chestnuts with bacon and porcini mushrooms

The ingredients to prepare this soup are:

  • 1 kg of chestnuts
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 100 g of shallot
  • 1 liter of vegetable broth
  • Rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 250g ceps
  • 150 g of bacon
  • 1 clove of garlic


  1. First prepare a vegetable broth and then boil the chestnuts for about half an hour, after cutting them.
  2. Fry the oil with the chopped shallot and rosemary in a pan, to which the cooked chestnuts will be added after having peeled them.
  3. Add the vegetable broth and cook for about twenty minutes: after the necessary time, mix everything and filter through a sieve.
  4. The next step is to clean the mushrooms by removing the excess soil with a small brush or a small knife: cut them in half, brown them in a pan where they were previously sautéed with garlic and oil, then season with salt and pepper to taste. .
  5. Finally, cut the bacon into strips and heat it in a frying pan until crispy: add it, along with the mushrooms, to the chestnut purée, ending with a drizzle of oil.

Bacon Stuffed Roast Chicken

To prepare this delicious main dish, you will need:

  • 1 chicken
  • 300 g ground veal
  • 150 g of smoked bacon
  • 150 g of bacon
  • rosemary, sage and thyme to taste
  • 150 g of potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 30ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 100 g of honey
  • 50 g of mustard
  • 50 g of potatoes
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. You must first brown the sliced ​​onions with a little oil, brown sugar and 40 grams of honey: after about 8 minutes, the onions will be caramelized.
  2. Meanwhile, add the minced meat, the herbs, the bacon bits, a drizzle of oil, the pepper, the salt and the caramelized onions.
  3. After washing the chicken, brush the inside with the sauce made up of mustard and the remaining honey, then fill it with the minced meat: tie the opening with a string to prevent the stuffing from coming out.
  4. Then, line all the chicken with the slices of bacon, place it in a pan with the potatoes (cut into pieces, salt and pepper), cover with aluminum foil and cook for about 2 hours at 180° .

Conclusion on the Guanciale

Bacon, a product of peasant origin, has established itself on Italian and international tables as a popular food, a “Traditional Agri-Food Product” produced in Abruzzo, Lazio, Tuscany, Sardinia, Calabria, Umbria and Molise.

It is rare to find a product that offers a true sensory experience to those who taste it, making dishes like Amatriciana and Carbonara nothing short of legendary.

Information source: https://salumipasini.com/guanciale-cose/

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