Finally got going on some curing for Charcutepalooza, but it's not completely done yet. Everything is now out of the cure and on to the dry phase. I chose to have a go at pancetta and guanciale. I tried the former a while ago and had great results, but for some reason I never put it into my curing rotation. I usually cure a belly for Maple Bacon about 2 times a year but never bother to take a portion and put it into a savory cure. Guanciale, on the other hand, I have never tried and was something I really wanted to.
Getting a hog jowl has been tough. Some butchers don't ever stock hog jowls and others that do stock it probably keep the cut for themselves. I was only planning on curing a belly for pancetta but decided to pop into a local butcher, Olliffe and ask if he would be able to get me a jowl. As luck would have it, he had received a Tamshire pig in that day. The Tamshire is a crossbreed of a Tamworth and Berkshire pig. The benefits described to me by the butcher for this was that Tamworths have a long body, making for a long belly, perfect for bacon and that Berkshires have great fat and marbling. The Tamshire came from Perth Pork in Stratford, Ontario and they provide a fantastic product.
I went ahead and prepped my cure, mixing my ingredients based on recipes provided in our guide for our year in meat, Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn. I was familiar with the pancetta cure and used it as is, but something was odd to me about the guanciale cure - the ratio of salt to meat was really high at 7%. I sent out a quick note to Michael Ruhlman and he replied that Brian thought it was fine, but he agreed that it was high and suggested that I could scale it back to the percentages used for a bacon cure. I was curious to see how it would turn out so I stuck to the original percentages listed in the book. I'll have to report back on how it turns out. The other comparison I'm looking forward to is rolled vs. flat pancetta. I've seen a few warnings about interior mold problems with rolled pancetta but my first time trying home curing was with a pancetta and I rolled it then, before I had ever read any scary stories about food nasties. I decided to give that a shot again and also set half of the belly to dry flat. So far I have both air drying in the lower part of my fridge. If I find that the lower humidity is making the exterior dry too fast I will probably move them to my wine fridge which is at a steady 65% humidity and 56F, and should be perfect.