Why be Pigheaded?

Washington Post food writer Tim Carman asks a crucial question: “[W]hat was I going to do with the rest of the pig face that I had peeled off its skull a few months earlier?”

“Sorry, I don’t mean to be graphic,” Carman apologizes. That said,

[I]f we’re going to talk about nose-to-tail cooking as if we’re discussing modern fashion (“Oh, beef-cheek tacos are so 2011”), then we ought to deal with facts without resorting to antiseptic, boy-in-a-bubble terminology. The fact is, I sliced up a pig’s head earlier this year for a story, rolled up half of its face, bagged it and stuffed it into the freezer. I didn’t want to waste an ounce of that meat because a) an animal had given up its life for it, b) I felt a bond with the poor beast after butchering its head, and c) I didn’t want Homeland Security to knock on my door after discovering a slightly bloody pig’s face in the trash.

What it comes down to is Guanciale, also known as face bacon. And though Carman cites Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn’s Charcuterie book, which describes it as “probably the easiest meat to cure for the home cook,” the process is arduous.

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