All right -- here's the recipe again for the guanciale.
I call it guanciale because this Italian name for cured hog cheeks is sooo cool!! But here's the recipe:
The entire 16-ounce bottle of the McCormick's Grill Mates Maple Smokehouse Rub. Call this 2 parts.
Mix thoroughly, making sure that the brown sugar does not have any lumps. This should be enough to cure thirty to forty pounds of meat. Store in an air-tight jar in a dark place.
Dump some of the curing rub into a very large stainess steel bowl... about 2 cups' worth. Rinse hog jowl pieces and pat dry with paper towel. Now dredge each piece into the cure rub, rubbing and massaging it down. Shake excess off. Place up to four pieces into a freezing Ziplock bag, place in the refrigerator, place weight on top of it. (I used two gallons of milk.) Every twelve hours, squeeze bag to massage the meat, then place back into the refrigerator and weight it down. After seventy-hours minimum, take a look at each piece and see how dense the meats have become. At this time you can cold-smoke, hot-smoke, grill, or braise the guanciale. Or, if you're lazy like me, slice into thick slices and pan-fry until at the desired state of doneness. Drain. (Save the fat for other projects, including guanciale confit!) EAT!!!!!!
When I smoked this, I used bourbon-flavored chips (Jack Daniels or Jim Beam). This made the difference!! I have also thrown in a few woody sprigs of rosemary to enhance the smoking flavors.
To answer the question: "What did I eat it with?" I originally made myself Eggs Benedict because this is one of my all-time favorite breakfast-comfort food, but when I tasted the guanciale as I was quickly pan-frying it, I just put it as a side. This is great with and without "dinner companions". You can use it in any recipe in which a somewhat sweet bacon would go well with. But I just eat it straight. Maybe with a really good bloody mary that has a dab of bacon jam in it...
But this is my favorite breakfast I've used the guanciale with:
Potato pancakes seasoned with shallots and chives (King Arthur Flour for pancake mix!)
Guanciale, of course, is cured "hog jowls", but the more accepted term is "hog cheeks". This is a well-marbled, small (we are talking about hogs, right??) muscle that may weigh anywheres from eight to sixteen ounces. You would have to go to an Italian grocers with a great butcher department... Or if you do live near a grocers with a great meat department, you could ask the butchers there what it would take to get hog cheeks.
I got mine online at: http://store.heritagefoodsusa.com/por...
I'm from farming stock -- milk, beef, and pork -- and I know how important a well-fed, free-ranged hog is. And the breed of the hog does make a difference. I only get Bershire, a wonderful "heirloom" hog.
Berkshire pigs are said to be "Britain's oldest pig breed", originally bred around the market-towns of Faringdon and Wantage, in the Vale of the White Horse in the English county of Berkshire. Although due to a change of county boundaries in 1974 the area is now in Oxfordshire. The pigs are believed to have become popular in other parts of England after being discovered by Cromwell's troops while they were stationed at Reading during the English Civil War. Today's animals descend from the herd maintained by the British monarchs since the early 18th century.
Berkshires are early-maturing pigs well covered with short black hair, often with white hair on their legs, faces, and tips of the tails. The snouts are dished and are of medium length. The ears are fairly large and are erect or slightly leaned forward. They have fine wrinkle-free necks and well-sloped shoulder blades. They have short, straight legs and a straight underline belly.
Berkshire pork, prized for juiciness, flavour and tenderness, is pink-hued and heavily marbled. Its high fat content makes it suitable for long cooking and high-temperature cooking.
Heritage Foods USA sells Berkshire pork at relatively decent prices -- decent for Alaska. And I can say that I've never had St. Louis ribs better than these!! (I "braised" them in a bbq sauce at 200 degrees F for seven hours! Incredibly tender and very juicy!) I bought the hog cheeks here as well as six pounds of St. Louis ribs AND two ten-pound slabs of skin-on pork belly. (Just around $8 a pound!)
Now let's answer the rest of your questions:
1) Can this recipe be scaled down? NO, and here's the reason why. There is a minimal amount of pink salt that is required to prevent the growth of killer bacteria. 5 teaspoons is the least amount required for 0-35/40 pounds of meat. This way, you won't under-cure. This rub, as long as it is stored in a cool, dark place, has a serious life expectancy of two years.
2) When it comes to measuring, weights and parts are far more accurate than tablespoons, cups, etc. and with better replication of the recipe Here's what I did:
I dumped the bottle of McCormick's Grill Mates into a bowl in which I would be making my curing rub. I then cut off the top of the plastic bottle and turned that into my measuring cup. The entire McCormick's Grill Mates bottle is 2 parts.
3) Refer to the above. Two parts brown sugar can be measured by filling the Grill Mate's plastic jar to the top, semi-packed.
4) If you wish, you could use the Costco's smoked paprika. But I have been a fan of Penzey's for years, and the difference in quality of their products are amazing. You could buy a bottle of garlic powder from Costco's and smell garlic. You could buy garlic powder from Penzey's and smell GARLIC!!!!!!!! As to where is the smoked paprika hidden on the Penzey's website? Don't check out paprika. Go to "smoked Spanish paprika." *shrug* I don't know why, but at least I know where to go.
5) I googled Jack Daniels wood chips and found them at Sears.com for $5.99.
6) I smoked it for... Damn! I cannot remember! I smoked it for a few hours... Check out the instructions. And remember -- you can always sample.
As for a suggested menu... Tell you what! I absolutely love a meal of appetizers with friends. Some call it tapas. I LOVE pupu platters!!! And I do have a few of my own. (My sister-by-a-different-mister and I do NOT share our food, especially a pupu platter!) I would skewer this and reheat it over the mini hibachi. The flavors on a pupu platter are aggressive enough to make the guanciale feel right at home.
You can do a wonderful pasta carbonara, but remember!!! No cream!!
My favorite non-party meal when I'm all by myself -- RAMEN!!!!!!!! With hard-boiled eggs or soft-boiled eggs, green onions, mung bean sprouts, fresh cilantro, mushrooms, and maybe bamboo shoots.
I hope the above works.
Yes, I am Borderbumble.
I think I'll try a kalbi marinade next time on the pork belly...
I just got this -- my "official" 2012 Yule gift. Made THE BEST guanciale from a heritage Berkshire hog I have ever tasted. If the Hog is King, then this incredible kitchen appliance is THE Queen of my kitchen! Try the Jim Beam or Jack Daniels' smoking chips!! Nom! Nom!!
Uncle Bob's Rich Mashed Potatoes (with SECRET ingredient).
I love mashed potatoes using a food processor. Uncle Bob likes to add 1-2 eggs right after he has added butter. Usually, the heat from the mashed potatoes will cook the eggs, but not always. People will RAVE about these potatoes.
Personally, I have been eating/drinking raw eggs ever since I was three. And during these forty-six years, I have yet to come down with salmonella or shigella infections.
The chocolate-covered wild berry jellies are divine... and VERY Alaskan. These are wonderful pectin-gelled berry gems -- milk or dark -- which are my all-time favorite! For being a confection, they are the least damaging to any diet and are far more substantial than you would imagine. And there are a few flavors you must try: high-bush cranberry and salmonberry. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful... You'll find the assortments in most gift shops, however, I like going to their home store in Homer where I can pick out the exact flavors I want...
Ditto on that! Oh! Go to the BIG ONE!!! I drive 3.5 hours from Kenai just to go there. And don't forget to take home pre-marinaded Kalbi just waiting to jump onto your grill or dive under your broiler!!
Really? Well, I was impressed with the Japanese restaurant next to New Sagaya. I was impressed. Little spent on atmosphere, but a lot of time spent with their food. It's just a joy to walk in and look at what everyone else is eating and thinking... so much wonderful food, so little stomach space. No wonder the Romans were fond of their vomitoriums...
Oh! And to those from the DA's office who go there to eat? KEEP YOUR VOICES DOWN! I definitely heard an ear-ful of all the interesting cases going on when I was last there. Very, highly entertaining, I should say...
Ah... I guess I'm REALLY late on this one...
The best place to eat in Healy has definitely have to be Rosie's. Well, it is the only game in town. But they are renown for the BEST and BIGGEST hamburger I've ever eaten.
It's called the Grizzly Burger. Comes super-duper stacked with all kinds of things -- including a fried egg which is SO Australian (but without the pickled beets which is also SO Australian) and a huge pile of home fries. If you can eat this, you get your face and burger (photo taken before you start digging in), on the "Wall of Shame." My husband and I had just finished the tour into Denali ALL THE WAY BACK to the Lodge, and it was 9 pm and we were STARVING. Yep! I demolished mine -- which I was really surprised but I was hungry as a bear. As for my husband, Bill, I'm surprised he didn't ask for seconds. It was a wonderful time at this diner, and I still have the photos to share and look at as my husband died only three months afterwards. (Sudden. Please, no pity.) I'll still go back.
Now... towards the entrance of Denali Park, there are quite a few little restaurants there as well as the big pricey one at the Princess Lodge. We went to the halibut and chips place, and you MUST try the corn fritters with the honey butter on them. I was so stunned! And the fish was very, very good.
As for the Princess Lodge? Nah... way too expensive for what you get. I'd rather go back to Rosie's or to the Fish and Chips place and eat there. Simple, good food that gets you through the day. We're looking at comfort food, folks. If you want to be impressed, go to Girdwood which is just outside of Anchorage at the local ski resort, and do the menu tasting dinner there. I really enjoyed this with Uncle Bob, and funny enough, we both thought the guacamole for the salmon poke was probably the best. Oh! And they make fresh raspberry sorbet there, too!!
OOOHHH!!! I need to try this! And I won't forget the Lime!!
I was looking at posting sites by location. Hawaii has one. The Mountain States mention nothing about Alaska.
Can I start the Alaskan talk site? There's way too much fun foodies up here, and I can certainly keep up with the slack with interviews with the local micro-breweries -- it's more than a hobby of here. And we have fantastic meaderies throughout that will ship "down South".
Well, I'm going there next week. I'll take pictures and let all of you know!