Linguine Verdi al Guanciale

James Beard

Author and Educator

Guanciale, the cured fat from a hog’s jowl, can be purchased at specialty Italian food stores, but can otherwise be hard to find. Feel free to substitute pancetta, which is more readily available. Pancetta is the Italian version of American bacon and it’s often used to flavor pasta dishes in Italian cuisine. It differs from American bacon in that it is unsmoked and is cured with a mixture of herbs, spices, and garlic.


  • 8 to 10 medium leeks
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Salt
  • 1/2 pound sliced guanciale or pancetta, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/4 pounds store-bought green (spinach) linguine or other pasta
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 to 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Trim off the root ends and most of the green parts of the leeks. Slit the tops lengthwise and wash thoroughly under running water to remove the grit. Cut into julienne strips and pat dry with paper towels.

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a skillet. Add the leeks, pepper, parsley, nutmeg, and salt. Sauté briskly until the leeks are golden, and remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon. Turn up the heat and sauté the guanciale or pancetta until it is nearly crisp. Return the leeks to the pan and turn off the heat.

Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan. Cook and drain the pasta and add to the pan. Stir as you add the leeks and guanciale or pancetta. Blend in the cream and half the cheese, and cook gently for 2 minutes more over very low heat. Serve with the rest of the cheese and freshly ground black pepper on the side.


6 servings