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Guanciale (Italian pronunciation: [ɡwanˈtʃaːle]) is an Italian cured meat product prepared from pork jowl or cheeks. Its name is derived from guancia, Italian for cheek or pillow. Guanciale is similar to the jowl bacon of the United States.
Pork cheek is rubbed with salt, sugar, and spices (typically ground black pepper or red pepper and thyme or fennel and sometimes garlic) and cured for three weeks. Its flavor is stronger than other pork products, such as pancetta, and its texture is more delicate.
Guanciale may be cut and eaten directly in small portions, but is often used as a pasta ingredient. It is traditionally used in dishes like pasta all'amatriciana and spaghetti alla carbonara. It is a delicacy of central Italy, particularly Umbria and Lazio. Pancetta, a cured Italian bacon which is normally not smoked, is sometimes used as a substitute when guanciale is not available.
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