I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook or Livejournal. (Although he did succumb to the lure of Google+.) He hates cell-phones.
So you've got that hog jowl that you turned into guanciale sitting around the house, and you're thinking to yourself, "It's really good, I should make something with it." It's still brussels sprout season, which is a good thing. So the pieces start to fall into place ...
One of the nice things about this sort of recipe is that's a single dish meal. That is to say, it's got protein, carbs, vegetables and some fat all in one beautiful, combined package. It's a good hearty pasta, suitable for the colder weather which is blowing in about this time of year.
First a word about the guanciale, which, as alluded to above, is pretty much a hog jowl that you've cured more or less like bacon. Ideally, of course, you should use your own home-cured version. Failing that, commercial guanciale will do. If that is unavailable, you could substitute bacon as long it's unsmoked, or something else in that family, pancetta, perhaps.
Cut your guanciale into lardons, or at least smallish strips. I started with a knife, then used kitchen shears for the last cut, but if your guanciale is firm enough (chilled would help), a knife alone should be sufficient. Put it into a skillet on medium heat to start rendering the fat out. Once some of the fat has started to melt, you can raise the temperature to medium high. If your cured pig has rind, you can either cut it small and add it to the mix, or do as I did and leave it longer and steal it as a chef's perq when it's cooked to your taste.
In the meantime, prepare the 'sprouts. I cut them all into quarters, no matter their size, because I wanted a mixture of textures. If you want all your sprouts softer, cut the big ones smaller; if you want them all a bit crunchier, don't cut the small ones. Or, more generally, if you want them all the same texture, get them all to roughly the same size so they'll cook at the same speed.
Mince your garlic and add it to the sprouts.
Start your salted pasta water heating. I opted for one of my favorite pastas for this dish, a Savoyard Trompette aux Chanterelle, a curly sort of pasta that looks a bit like chanterelle mushrooms. You could, naturally, substitute another type of pasta, but this one looks so nice!
Keep an eye on your guanciale, when it's cooked the way you like it, it's time to start moving. (I like mine a little chewy, you may like yours crisper. Just keep an eye on it until it's done.) Pull the guanciale out of the rendered fat and set aside. Kick the heat up to high. Put the pasta in the already simmering pasta water. Dump the sprouts and garlic into the hot fat. Stir them occasionally as they cook.
With any luck at all, the sprouts will be done just about the same time the pasta is. Give the pasta a quick drain, then put into a bowl or pot and add the sprouts with all the fat and cooked guanciale. Mix well and serve. Top with parmesan cheese. Depending on your taste and how salty and seasoned your meat is, you might need to add some salt and/or pepper. I found that a little freshly ground black pepper on top of the parmesan was just about right.