Leave the jowl in the fridge for about a week, turning it every other day, until the flesh feels firm, not squishy. It will give off a good amount of liquid as the salt sucks the moisture out.
After taking it out of the cure, rinse it off under cold water and poke a hole in one of the corners.
Run some butcher’s string through the hole and hang it in your predetermined location.
The recipe in Charcuterie recommends drying for 1-3 weeks. Because of the somewhat humid conditions I went on the long side, and probably could have left it in at least another week without drying it out excessively. But I was excited.
No mold (this is a good thing). I was shocked at how good it looked. Not sure whether to be impressed with my accomplishment, or just less impressed with all the rest of the guanciale out there. I’m going with the latter.
I mean, that looks legitimately store-bought. Marbled, slick from fat. Damn Gina, who knew guanciale was so simple? Of course, now came the moment of truth. The taste test. Was this meat actually safe? Would I die of botulism? A little backstory: Liz has been against this endeavor from the start. She didn’t want pork hanging in our apt, she didn’t want the wine fridge turned into a meat fridge, and above all she did not trust the conditions to keep the meat disease free. For several weeks, botulism was one of her favorite topics of conversation. Chats with links to botulism websites, descriptions of the symptoms, incredulous stares. All of it was leading up to this:
Tasted great. But then I feel a scratching in my throat. I try to swallow. Can’t. All of a sudden my mind and heart are racing. Goddamnit! Do I have botulism? Have I been botulised? Luckily we live several blocks away from a hospital so we quickly grab our things and start walking over. About 15 feet outside our apartment I realize the absurdity of the situation and regain my composure. We hit the corner store up for some cookie dough ice cream and head back home. 12 days later I am still botulism free, but for the sake of your own peace of mind I recommend using the pink salt. I got mine here http://www.savoryspiceshop.com/spices/sltcur.html .
The guanciale keeps for up to 4 months so freezing it in chunks and defrosting as needed is the way to go.
Lardo is up next.