Guanciale is made from the cheek of a pig. It is salted and cured much like pancetta, unlike pancetta or bacon however, guanciale has a much higher fat content, and is not smoked. A pig's cheek is not heavily laden with meat; however, the little meat that does line the cheek has a very unique flavour and is actually quite tender. The fat melts beautifully when heated, and when eaten raw has a thick butter like taste.
The guanciale in the picture above comes from Italy. It is not an item easily found in Montreal, however, there are some small butcher shops making them. I get mine from Boucherie R.D.P. located at 8063 Andre Ampere, R.D.P., Montreal, Qc, H1E 3J5, Tel#514-494-0750. Guanciale is indispensable if you want to make a proper spaghetti carbonara or a matriciana.
Note: I'll be making guanciale in an upcoming post with my very own Jimmy "the butcher".