The Hunt for Guanciale

Ever since my good friend told me about it, I’ve been very interested in trying out Spaghetti Carbonara. I initially looked up a video that had an authentic Carbonara recipe, and about a week later I made the recipe for the first time.

Anyone in North America (and possibly elsewhere outside of Italy) who has tried pasta with a Carbonara sauce, has most likely experienced a white creamy sauce with bits of bacon and small slices of chicken, which came together into a brilliant, filling dish. That is not authentic Carbonara.

While it is certainly the way most restaurants in North America seem to produce it, this is simply the Western version of the sauce. A real Spaghetti Carbonara does not contain milk and cream, nor cut up strips of bacon. It is the result of a medley of parmesan and egg yolks cooked to creamy perfection in a hot pan that has been used to release the succulent juices of guanciale (cured pork jowl). Sometimes the dish includes chicken as well (I happen to prefer it that way personally), but not always.

I have now made authentic Spaghetti Carbonara on several occasions (although I try to limit myself to twice a month due to its unhealthiness). Although it has been missing one key ingredient- the guanciale. A common replacement thereof is pancetta, which in my opinion tastes far better than cooking it with regular bacon strips, and adds a lot to the dish when cooked.

Don’t get me wrong, authentic Carbonara with the replacement of pancetta is still amazing, but I have been inclined for quite a while to produce a truly authentic serving of Carbonara (minus the Italian background and formally trained culinary art skills). So for the past two months anytime I’ve been at a new grocery store I’ve asked for guanciale, and every time I was at a butcher (admittedly not that often) I looked for it, but to no avail.

Today I happened upon The Friendly Butcher on Yonge Street, and the butcher therein kindly informed me that guanciale is a very small part of the pig, which does not result in much to sell, and is therefore not very profitable for butchers to carry on stock. I could, if I truly wanted to, order it into the butcher in advance, but I was essentially told it wasn’t the best use of my money.

For now I think it would be wise to improve my cooking ability with the pancetta and once I’ve perfected it so to speak I will order some guanciale and see if it was truly worth the effort I’ve been putting into hunting it down.



P.S. Here is the Recipe.

And here is my more detailed version of the recipe:

Serving Size: 2

Table Salt
Olive Oil
3 Eggs
1/3cup Parmesan Cheese Finely Grated
Parmesan Cheese


1) Bring a large pot of water to boil
2) Add ~10g salt
3) Add Spaghetti
4) Let boil with occasional stirring for ~10mins

In the Frying Pan: (Medium/High heat)
1) Cut ~100g-125g pancetta into thin chunks
2) Add some good olive oil to the pan to coat it
3) Add the pancetta to the pan

In a bowl:
1) Add 2 eggs
2) Add 1 yolk
3) Beat eggs
4) Add roughly 1/3cup of finely grated parmesan cheese
5) Add a bit of pepper (~15-20g)

Back to the Frying Pan:
1) Once the pancetta is cooked, remove from heat
2) Add cooked spaghetti
3) Stir
4) Add egg sauce
5) Stir
6) Transfer to a plate

On a Plate:
1) Grate parmensan onto spaghetti (light layer overtop)
2) Add a pinch of pepper

P.P.S. I know this isn’t my usual type of post, unfortunately I haven’t been able to cook for the past few days due to an issue in my kitchen. When I finally do make the Carbonara with the guanicale, there will definitely be a post about it.


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