Native to central Italy, Guanciale is unsmoked, cured pig's jowl. This incredibly fatty cut is rubbed with salt and black pepper (sometimes peperoncino, sometimes herbs) and dried for three weeks or longer. Dense with collagens, it imparts a rich and silky texture to a sauce, along with an intensely primitive, funky porkiness. It is the essential ingredient in sugo all’Amatriciana.
The pasta most commonly associated with all’Amatriciana is bucatini, but that is the Roman way, along with the inclusion of garlic and onion. In the town of Amatrice (which fiercely claims the sauce for its own) it is more often made without alliums and served with spaghetti.
I’m equally happy using either pasta to be honest. As regards making the sauce, while I’ve previously sided with the Eternal City (even adding a splash of balsamic vinegar), I now consider myself an honorary Amatrician; because really this sauce is all about the guanciale - garlic and onions are simply unnecessary. Having said that, with so few ingredients involved you should also pay a premium for a good tin of tomatoes and a fine hunk of pecorino.
If you find it difficult to source guanciale locally, you can buy it online from Gastronomica, Natoora or Nifeislife.
Prior to a few weeks ago, around the time I posted this recipe for Greek frappé, I can't recall ever giving much of a toss about either iced coffee or iced tea. But since then I've arranged a meeting with a kind soul (@shedlikesfood) who has brought back some sachets of Nescafé Classic from her travels, bought a Vietnamese filter pot, checked with Melange on Bellenden Road to find out when their next delivery of Cà Phê VN coffee arrives (it's today), doubled my holdings in ice cube trays and re-arranged the contents of the fridge to accommodate jugs of cold-brewed coffee, cold tea and sugar syrup. A textbook example, I'm sure you'll agree, of gastro-bonkers OCD.
Probably, by now, every one but me is familiar with the cold brew method. If you're not, it simply involves steeping coarsely ground coffee in water (the ratio of 4½ parts water to 1 part coffee seems a commonly given guide) for about 12 hours. You then strain the resultant concentrate - once through a sieve and then again through a finer coffee filter - to leave behind any 'silt'; then chill. To use it, simply dilute with water or milk and sweeten to taste. (Not having a coffee filter to hand, I used a cut-out piece of J-Cloth for the second strain).
Aficionados of this method say it produces a smoother, less bitter brew - because there's no heat involved, the oils which are full of acidic compounds are not released into the water. The counter argument is that “…it uses too much coffee to be close to drinkable; it misses all the subtle brightness and nuance extracted when water of the proper temperature is used to dissolve the coffee oils that are so carefully developed in the craft roasting process, leaving a dull shadow of what might have been……oh, and the aroma is also dull to non-existent.” (From the website of Oren's Daily Roast, a New York chain of coffee houses.) I reckon it's just the ticket for cheaper blends containing a large amount of the harsher (and caffeine-packed) Robusta bean.
However, any argument, either for or against, might well be considered moot when what you're going to do with the end product is mix it with sweet and sticky condensed milk.
Which brings us to Vietnamese coffee. Here's a video on how to make it:
If you're using this method, and getting an X-rated shot of coffee, it makes sense to serve over crushed ice which will then dilute it. What I did though was make a cold brew to a ratio of around 5:1 and use some of it to make coffee ice cubes then mix both in a glass with the condensed milk. It was delicious. Give it a try.
And the iced tea? I made it by steeping four jasmine teabags and a small lump of ginger in a litre of boiling water for about 4-5 minutes and adding a tablespoon of lemon juice. Once it had cooled, I used some to make ice cubes. Then I filled a glass with the cubes, poured over the chilled tea and sweetened it with a little sugar syrup (heat equal amounts of sugar and water in a pan until the sugar has dissolved). That was delicious too. Shame that summer is over.
I was sorting through my kitchen cupboards on Saturday morning and came across a bottle of pomegrante molasses which I'd bought, originally, to use for a recipe that I'd never got around to making. In the adjacent cupboard was a jar of haricot beans, and seeing the two in quick succession made me think longingly of a deep bowl of gloriously rich baked beans. After a further check, I found I already had all the ingredients needed for the recipe below excepting the pork - I love it when that happens.
Of course pomegranate molasses isn't the same thing as molasses at all, but its tartness works really well in this marriage of sweet and sour.
It is not for me to use such terms as 'genius' to describe the inclusion of jerk barbecue sauce in this dish - that is what the comments section is for - but it combines with the triple smoked pork belly to give the beans a wonderfully gutsy bonfire night flavour.
Speaking of the pork belly, I found it in Harte's on Rye Lane, where they call it triple smoked gammon; but gammon, to me, means joints or steaks. This was definitely belly; if I was them I'd market it as 'Irish Pancetta'. It cost £5.99/kg.
You could, of course, use smoked bacon for this or even splash out on some actual pancetta (and for a really cheap dish, Asda sell what they term 'Smoked Bacon Cooking Pieces' for £1.48/kg), but none, I'll wager, will impart quite so much depth and complexity .
SHORTLISTED FOR FOOD BLOG OF THE YEAR 2014