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Basically the Best Bacon Ever: Italian Cured Pig's Cheek

Cured pig's cheek or guanciale di maiale (literally translates to cheek of the pig) is hands-down the BEST bacon Jason & I have ever eaten - and have yet to find someone who disagrees once they taste it's porky goodness! I know it sounds a bit weird to some to eat or order cheek - but trust me - just go with it - especially if you are in Italy. In our neck of the woods in Le Marche, it is served at home and commonly found on the menus of rustic traditional osteria's, family run restaurants just like our farmhouse, as an antipasta atop crostini. The recipe below calls for red wine vinegar which perfectly cuts the fat and combined with the sage makes for a rich meaty buttery deliciousness with a kick!

Bacon lovin' seems to run in the family - after 6 months of living in Italy, my sister Meagan returned to the States with only 2 things Italian: a new pair of shoes & a huge cured pig's cheek! Our good friend Fusciani proudly presented her with a home-cured cheek, proclaiming "my gift to America!"

America's gift from Italy

Recipe for Cured Pig's Cheek Crostini
  Crostini di Guanciale di Maiale

cured pig’s cheek (guanciale di maiale)
fresh sage leaves, few handfuls
olive oil
garlic cloves
red wine vinegar
toasty bread

Slice cured pig's cheek very thinly or ask your butcher.
In a frying pan, on medium heat add 2 glugs of olive oil, garlic cloves & sage leaves, add pig's cheek.
Cook for approximately 30 seconds - 1 minute on each side, until changes color to a nice golden brown, but not burned.
Blot with a paper towel.
Lightly sprinkle with red wine vinegar.
Serve immediately with the sage over toasted bread.

Pair best with crusty bread to soak up the juices or better yet blow your diet and serve for breakfast with eggs & toast!

Jason showing a guest how to slice prosciutto & guanciale paper thin


  1. That is some beautiful pork!!! Gorgeous photos! I want to go to Italy!

  2. i LOVE bacon. i think i'd love this even more!!

  3. It's so hard to find guanciale here-I've searched and searched and just may have to mail order a piece and share it with friends.

  4. or you'll just have to come out & we'll get you hooked up!!

  5. Hi, I didn't know how to contact you so I left a comment here. I like to invite you to, a food & wine social network, where you can share photos, videos and a link to your own blog.

  6. carsten - signing up right now! thanks for the invite & happy you found me!

  7. Wonderfull photos. Your pork has made me a jealous woman :-). It looks delicious.

  8. How did your sister get the guanciale past customs?

  9. Wow, I'm impressed with your cheek bacon, I've never seen that type of bacon, and I am a Baconaholic...Thanks for sharing your experience, I passed it on thru facebook and twiter.

  10. Believe it or not, you can buy guanciale on (and I'm gonna!). All I can say is yum, yum, yum. I've seen Mario Batali wax poetic over this bacon and I loved your story about your sister. Hope she shared.

  11. Dear Ashely and Jason,

    That is a very fine piece of bacon, it certainly is praise worthy, something to covet, a special treat.

    What a splendid relationship you have with the land, a marvel of bucolic living, how you have carved a wonderful livelihood/avocation with what matters.

    I think perhaps you could add the designation Slow Money to the philosophy that you uphold.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  12. This sounds incredible!! Now to find a nice big pig's cheek? We are going out hunting right now! best from Montecito, California where it is raining!!

  13. I will be in Sicily, cooking and writing on February 15th. I'll be there for two months. I will be on the lookout for pig cheeks.

  14. I would like to buy and perserve pig cheeks. Any sites that shows me how to do it and what to look for.

  15. What did your sister wrap the bacon in to get past customs and the Dept of AG beagle?

  16. That's hysterical b/c my sister was really nervous - but she was willing to put up a fight for her pig! she had no problems at all - my advice - shrink wrap it/ vac cum seal it!

  17. pork product EVER!!
    It really changed my life for the better.
    And surprisingly I did't have any troubles getting it home. Thanks Fusciani!

  18. Although many people are afraid to eat pig frequently, i must to say this meat is really delicous and don´t have any comparion because the taste is extraordinary and we can cook it in any activities or meeting. Or even in a romantic dinner, if you are thinking to prepare a dinner for your husband or boyfriend.

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  19. Oh how I enjoy the two of you!! i couldn't agree more!! I recently learned to cure this cut!! Delicious may be an understatement!!

    Beautiful food, filled with love as heart sings...

    Wendy D


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