4 OZ GUANCIALE – diced
6 TBS BUTTER – unsalted
FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER – to taste
1 TSP SEA SALT or KOSHER SALT
4 CUPS COOKED JASMINE RICE
GRATED CHEESE – for sprinkling
In a food processor, pulse the guanciale until it is ground. Guanciale is made from the entire jowl and cheek from a pig. You can find it in Italian specialty stores.
Boil enough rice to make 4 cups cooked and reserve ¾ cup of the water awhile keeping the rice warmed.
Heat butter in a large saucepan and when starting to sizzle add the guanciale and coarsely ground pepper, salt and up to ¾ of the rice water, a little at a time. Stir in the rice and cook just until heated and then ladle into bowls and garnish with a little more freshly ground black pepper and grated cheese.
Note: In Italy rice is cultivated in water, planted in April and ready to harvest by September. The rice is grown along the Po Valley in Piedmont, Lombardy, Emilia and Veneto. Italian rice, when cooked, releases a good amount of starch which enables the grains to cling nicely without becoming glutinous.
To give this dish just a little twist, add 3 cups, packed, of chopped baby arugula into the pan with the guanciale and toss for a few minutes. Do this just before adding the rice. After adding the rice if it seems to be a bit dry, add some of the reserved rice water, a little at a time until you get the right consistency.