Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Coppa and a cure-a-thon

Well, I was finally able to procure a coppa. Finding one of these has been quite enigmatic. Scores of butchers and several arguments later, I got one. Thanks to Tom from Marlow and Daughters in Williamsburg, http://tomthebutcher.blogspot.com/. I found the link at Larbo's blog, http://www.thislittlepiggy.us/, thanks to him as well. I work nearby the store and will now be a frequent visitor. Tom was nice enough to actually break the coppa down in front of me and explain as he went. The meat looks and smells fantastic. It is pictured in the top shot, well marbled and lovely. I got sucked in and had to buy a jowl while I was there, which is pictured two below the coppa. As I passed by the display case, a fat, juicy hunk of belly caught my eye, so I grabbed that as well, which would be the second picture. The final picture is of another nice hunk of belly given to me by a friend.

On to the curing. Especially with the meat purchased from Marlow and Daughters, I wanted to maintain some austerity. I want the taste of this pork to shine. I decided to go simply with salt, sugar, black pepper, juniper and garlic, with cure #2. With this nearly 2lb. jowl, simple guanciale is called for. I've made 4 or 5 of these already and have run the gamut as far as curing ingredients. However, I think my first attempt was my tastiest. That was salt,
black pepper, thyme and juniper.....no curing salt. Again,
hoping that the jowl is of such high quality, it won't need much seasoning. I towed the line when it was time to cure the belly. Initially, this go around with the belly, I wanted to speck a piece, or, at least give it a shot. This is NOT the piece of belly I'm willing to experiment on. This has tesa written all over it. Very straightforward, went salt, black pepper, cure #1 and thyme. That's it. I shifted gears when it came to belly piece #2. I cut it into 2 separate pieces. With the first piece, I went back to the bacon well. The sage, ginger, garlic variety seems to be quite popular. More so than any of the other renditions I've made. With that done, I took another trip to South Tyrol. This last piece is the piece I'm going to try and speck out. Went with caraway seed, juniper and bay leaf along with salt, black pepper and cure #2. All the belly pieces and jowl will cure for 1 week. I'm still unsure about how successfully I will be able to cold smoke the speck on the Big Green Egg. Worst case scenario, South Tyrol bacon. Also, not pictured is another semi frozen jowl given to me by yet another butcher. I'm tossing around the idea of jowl bacon and/or jowl speck. Let's hear ideas.


  1. Hello-
    I like reading your blog. I think that you have been had...maybe it is the photo but it looks like your coppa is actually the rib end of the pork loin and not the eye of the shoulder.


  2. I sure hope not. I'm no butcher, but, I did watch him break down the shoulder. Maybe we'll get some more input.

  3. Mmm, I love jowl.

    A few months ago I found a very compelling recipe for using it as a filling for tamales. I know, it's outside of your "italian box" as you put it, but it looked ravishing.

    The last guanciale I made was with a nice fistful of jalapeno and chili flakes mixed into the cure, and it came out faintly spicy, which was a nice change with the fat profile it had.

    Can't wait to see your results!

  4. great blog!
    pumpkin spice guanciale?

  5. Oh lord, Porsha, jowl tamales. It's scary out there outside my box. :) I am leaning towards bludgeoning this jowl with dry chili powder, perhaps some rosemary, galic, and citrus zest.

    Pumpkin pie guanciale? Maybe something along those lines in the fall. I was actually considering a take on mocha......some cocoa powder, fine ground espresso powder, and orange zest. Seems just a bit too challenging to my palate.