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I read a blog post the other day claiming that Cheek may be the new Belly. I could see that. It's fatty and streaked with lovely, tender meat. And it cures wonderfully.

This lovely piece of porky goodness is pork cheek I picked up at Marlowe & Daughters. Following Ruhlman's recipe, I cured it for a few days and then let it hang in the basement wrapped in cheese cloth for a few weeks. When it came out, it looked like this:


Sliced thin and sauteed like bacon, it's a little fattier than I want. So I thought about using it as a bacon substitute for recipes that call for slab bacon or pancetta.

While chatting with Eric the other day he suggested using it in a pasta sauce. After the jump, my notes on putting it together.


- Saute cubes of Guanciale until crisped up.

- Remove meat and most of the rendered fat.

- Saute chopped chiles, garlic and onions or shallots with some salt & pepper

- Return meat to the pan, mix together

- Add Tomato Paste, allowing it to thicken a bit before blending

- Deglaze with a cup or so of red wine, then allow to simmer for a moment

- Add a large can of crushed tomatoes

- Simmer for 20 minutes or so, partially covered

-When serving, top with some grated cheese and a dab of olive oil.

I had it simmering for nearly an hour due to a poor choice of how much water to boil for the pasta. We ate it with some what I had left of some really good tagliatelle and a handful of Ronzoni to fill it out. Less than ideal, but It was all just a vehicle for the sauce.

It was sweet and rich and the bits of guanciale were crisp on the outside with a firm chewiness on the inside. When the pasta was done, I ate the rest of the sauce with a spoon, right out of the pan. Yum.

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