I replaced my drying chamber over the holidays, my last one dying on me quite spectacularly and ruining a bunch of goose breasts that were hanging up in it. I finally have found a source of high quality raw pork jowl here in Tokyo, so I can make guanciale. These jowls are imported frozen from old Castile (Iberico breed, recebo-grade) and when I thawed the 1.5kg pack in my fridge, it turned out it was comprised of three pieces. It is not clear if these are all from the same jowl that has been butchered into smaller pieces, or from different animals that were very young when slaughtered.
Regardless, the jowls were cured in the orthodox fashion according to R & P’s recipe and are now hanging up to dry in my new chamber. The fat is a very different quality to that of the belly or back-fat, with a seemingly lighter and creamier look to it. I can’t wait till it is dried out nicely and I can make the classic pasta dishes with it!
I also am trying to clear out my freezer a bit so I thawed a goose breast and a 1kg chunk of boned Iberico breed pork shoulder that were lurking within, and cured them both and hanged them up in the new chamber. Both pork and goose were also cured according to the recipes in R & P’s Salumi book. The pork is an odd shape and cut (being kind of half coppa and the rest regular shoulder) but being Bellota-grade the taste of the finished dried meat is, modesty aside, amazing.
In between the breaking down of my old chamber and the arrival of the new I made some English-style unsmoked back bacon. Back home we would call this bacon, whilst cured pork, smoked or unsmoked, from the belly is of course known as streaky rashers. Back bacon cut thick is often served as or called gammon, although technically that should only be ham cut from the leg (after the French jambon). Anway, the back bacon came out very nice and in addition to making innumerable bacon butties I had plenty left over for friends and colleagues, which I now pack with a vacuum sealer (my latest acquisition as the insanity of charcuterie deepens).
Anyway, please check again in the near future to see how the dry-cured meats have come along!