Friday, June 25, 2010

Falling off the wagon with guanciale

Yesterday's food diary:

  • Breakfast - multigrain oatmeal with flax, a tablespoon of sliced almonds and a little almond milk
  • Lunch - half a falafel wrap (vegetarian)
  • Dinner - when all hell broke loose

Back in January, long before I needed to care about my fat intake, I impulsively bought a pound and a half of fresh slab pork belly from Vermont at Savenor's because I'm a big fan of pork belly, particularly the way it's prepared at the Momofuku restaurants in NYC (more on that another time, but I think plenty's been said about the heavenly pork buns in other articles). It sat in our freezer for 5 months before I came up with a way to prepare it - spaghetti carbonara.

The recipe I found on Epicurious (fantastic iPad/iPhone app, btw!) was really easy, though it took multiple days - dry rub marinate of salt and coriander for 2 days, braise in oven for 2.5 hours, let cool for up to 2 days, then remove skin, chop into bacon-sized pieces, crisp up and add to the egg/cheese/pasta mixture. We ate the pork belly version for dinner one night and it was surprisingly not that fatty, since I had essentially taken all the fat off the pork belly and it was only the meat left. While it was good, I impulsively decided that I would try it the next night with guanciale.

Guanciale is unsmoked bacon made from the jowl or cheek of the pig. My husband and I had never eaten it, but since it was the traditional meat product in spaghetti alla carbonara, I went off to Formaggio Kitchen to procure it. I'm glad a little goes a long way since this stuff is $21/lb. In reading up on this new pork product, someone claimed (perhaps it was the Babbo NYC restaurant site?) that guanciale is less fatty than other pork cuts, but I would have never known with the amount of fat I had to pour off. The flavour, as detailed in my background reading, is more intense than pancetta and was nothing like I'd ever eaten before. Rich and salty is the best way I can describe it, and those adjectives really don't do it justice. The guanciale-version of spaghetti carbonara was over-the-top decadent and unbelievably filling - the husband and I sat on the couch for hours in a carb/fat comatose and was passed out by 10pm. While delicious, I think it will be a very long time before I cook that dish again.


Jennifer said...

I've no response other than WOW. And I will follow that with, goodness, that's some dedication to our friend the pig. PORK FAT RULES!!!!

And at least your other two meals were on point!

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