A specialty of the central Italian regions of Umbria and Lazio, guanciale is pork jowl or pig cheek that's been cured with black pepper, red pepper, or spices. It's softer in texture and less salty than pancetta, but possesses a stronger, fattier taste.
Guanciale's rarely eaten raw; rather, it's well-suited for sautéeing with vegetables, enriching a stew, or boosting the flavor of meat. It's an essential ingredient in several classic Roman pastas, such as spaghetti alla carbonara and bucatini all'amatriciana.
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The pork is salt-cured, then seasoned with cayenne pepper, garlic, filé powder, and other herbs and spices, and hot-smoked for a couple of days. The meat is usually chopped and added to beans, eggs, pastas, collard greens, and Cajun or Creole specialties like jambalaya to add depth of flavor.
Have you tried this Louisiana specialty?
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At the Fancy Foods Show, I found myself drawn to paper-thin slices of dark, purple-hued cured meat. I quickly learned that the ultratender, sweet meat was something called bresaola, also known as beef prosciutto. Bresaola is an air-cured, spiced, and salted cut of beef that is aged for several months. The cut comes from the hind leg of the animal and is best served thinly sliced as an antipasto.
While the beef cut (usually the eye of round) is very tender, unlike prosciutto, it's extremely lean and has no visible fat. Valtellina, the Alpine valley in Lombardy where bresaola was first conceived, is a protected geographical indication; those made in the same style outside Valtellina are often labeled "viande séchee" instead. The most popular way to serve bresaola is sliced on its own as an appetizer. It is often drizzled with olive oil or vinegar in the style of beef carpaccio, or served on top of salads and pizza. Have you ever tried bresaola?
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Deep red in color with heavily marbled traces of fat, speck is served thinly sliced as an appetizer, or is used to flavor cooked dishes. For a less traditional application, try it in a salad with apples and arugula.
Note that speck from Alto Adige or Tyrol, which enjoys a protected designation of origin, should not be confused with the German usage of the word, which refers to lard.
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While charcuterie and salumi share many similarities — both are cured meats, and both maximize the use of every part of the animal — they're not the same thing. Charcuterie, a French term, typically refers to cooked meats such as pâtés. The Italian equivalent of charcuterie is referred to as affettati, while salumi generally refers to salted and dry-cured meats. Salame (plural is salami) is a cured sausage made from ground pork, and is a type of salumi.
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Given that some say we're in the middle of a food revolution, and local, sustainable, home-grown produce is popping up everywhere, it's only logical that an uptick in home preserving will happen, too. Enter Karen Solomon's Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It, a new book that's focused on making your own artisanal food products, either to keep or to give as gifts. The tome isn't simply limited to fruit jellies and quick pickles — it also includes instructions on making everything from flatbread to watermelon Popsicles to chai tea. But did it live up to its high expectations? Find out when you read more
I've long been a fan of local talent Chris Cosentino and his offal-inspired Italian restaurant, Incanto. So when news, well, spread last month that Cosentino's salumeria Boccalone Artisan Meats was debuting the first spreadable salame — Nduja, as it's called — to be produced in the States, I knew I had to get my hands on some right away. Did the salumi live up to all its wonderment? Find out when you read more
With double-meat sandwiches, it is important to tread carefully. So for this indulgent combination of marinated chicken and cured meat, I gathered exceptionally gourmet ingredients: Point Reyes blue cheese, capocolla (aka coppa) from Chris Cosentino's Boccalone deli, and organic chicken thighs. Since I was piling meat upon meat with creamy cheese, I made extra-small sandwiches using soft but firm dinner rolls.
Somewhere between salami and pancetta in terms of flavor, the capocolla adds a bacon-y bite, so the resulting cap-and-cheese-laden creation is reminiscent of a bacon cheeseburger without the beef. Using chicken thighs and a nutty, salty marinade adds to the heartiness, while the sautéed mushrooms and tomato help temper the richness. To get the recipe for this double-meat delicacy, read more