Babbo’s bacon. Popularized in this country by chef Mario Batali, guanciale is salt-cured, dried pigs’ cheek; pancetta, which may be substituted for it, is made from the belly of the pig. The name comes from guancia, which means “cheek” in Italian. Guanciale, a main ingredient in spaghetti all’amatriciana, is especially common in the cooking of central Italy. The Babbo website notes that though guanciale “is leaner than traditional pork pieces, it has a noticeably richer flavor. It is this richness, combined with a delicate porkiness, that more than merits the meat’s three-week drying period. Making guanciale may require a little more planning than simply buying good-quality bacon or pancetta, but its abundance of flavor distinguishes guanciale from the rest, making every dish that much more succulent.”
Read more at the James Beard blog.