On the corner of Highland and Melrose, somewhere in the murky depths of a well-known restaurant's back kitchen, in the farthest reaches of the walk-in hidden behind three rolling racks, there hangs a secret treasure.
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Behold Osteria Mozza's Wall of Guanciale (say gwan-chi-ALL-ee). Sometimes referred to as the magical Roman bacon, guanciale is made from pig's jowl or cheek that is typically rubbed with pink salt, spices and chile flakes. Then it is left to dry for at least three weeks to produce an Italian bacon, usually unsmoked, that is unparalleled when it comes to rich pork-y flavor. Squid Ink got an exclusive look at the curing meat. At Osteria Mozza it makes a guest appearance in pasta alla Grecia and Amatriciana. Over at the mozzarella bar, it is the last delicious bit placed on top of grilled asparagus, burrata, brown butter and almonds; next door, at Pizzeria Mozza, it tops the chicken liver crostini. Just a couple of weeks ago, guanciale started showing up another way: on a brand-new pizza of guanciale, asparagus, parmesan and a baked egg. We thank you, Mozza executive chef and Keeper of The Pig, Matt Molina, for sharing your bounty.