Yeah yeah. Here I am foraying again into food from a different culture. 🙂 And another cured meat at that. A cured pork cheek at that.
Funnily enough, I know that we went to the US how difficult it was to get pork belly in your regular grocery, while you can easily get it here. It’s the same with the pork mask. People have a hard time obtaining this, and need to go to special butchers to get their hands on this. And again, it is easily available here. A prime cut and more of a waste.
So going back, I have been watching Italian food preservation, and they always say how much better guanciale (gwan-cha-le) is than pancetta. Pancetta may be fatty, but the guanciale fatty too. And the fat, coming from the head, is supposed to be creamier, tastier. When using this for sisig, it does have a different collagen texture that is so different from, let’s say, the shoulder or the belly. And it is wonderful. It was only this foray into buying pork head meat for sisig, then sausages, that I realized I can easily make this guanciale too (and after my success with the salami, why not? 🙂
And this is where I used my fennel seeds and the reason it is the only that has been opened in the picture. I was working on 1.5 kilo head meat, which was then trimmed off the uneven fat and zinged off the leftover hair on the skin. This was frozen when bought, and was still cool when I was doing this. I measured the seasonings for curing such as 3% by weight for salt (I used the dry cure salt mixture from Charcuterie (sugar, salt and pink salt)), 3% of black peppercorns, and 15% of fennel seeds. I roasted the whole seeds and peppercorns, ground them roughly, mixed them with the salt, and patted it on the air dried pork. Stick in a zip lock bag, place in the fridge, and weigh down with some weights.
Two days in the fridge, then turn. Then two more days. After, it will be hungry to dry from 3 to 5 weeks. Let’s see what will result from this 🙂