Sautéed Ramps in Guanciale

Ramps Guanciale Saute Recipe

I swore that if I failed to post at least one recipe for ramps this season, then I would deport myself to the nearest city with a Chinatown (because a Filipino needs a local source for patis – see blog name). Ramps are the stinky wild leeks after which Chicago was named after all.

The local food-obsessed (or is it food-obsessed locals?) go nuts over the pungent spring seasonals for its unusual blend of familiar flavors. The purplish white bulbs taste sharply of some sort of onion, garlic, and scallion mutant hybrid. The leaves have a peppery bite reminiscent of arugula, but spicier.

My neighbors probably hate me for stinking up the entire building the past few days but I’m okay with that. Ramps have cured my fear of purple and green foods.

A quick saute in the rendered fat of guanciale, Italian cured pork jowls, is my favorite way of preparing ramps. I remember Mario Batali talking about guanciale in an Iron Chef America battle. He had this cheesy look on his face as he whispered sweet-nothings about the Roman specialty, which naturally steered me into thoughts of illicit goings-on between Batali and his house-cured cheeks. With Batali’s o-face in mind, I tried browning a few ounces of guanciale to a crisp in its own fat, just to see what the big deal is. Let’s just say I’m never going back to bacon.

Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Mele Cotte

Sautéed Ramps in Guanciale

makes about 2 servings

Ramps Wild Leeks
Allium tricoccum.


1 pound ramps, trimmed and cleaned
1/4 pound guanciale, small dice
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste (optional)

Guanciale Italian Cured Pork Jowls
Pork jowl sounds much cuter than pig face.


  • To trim and clean the ramps, cut off the root end and submerge in a large bowl of cold water to dislodge trapped dirt, changing the water as many times as necessary. Rub the stalks gently with your fingertips to remove a thin and slippery outer layer, much like cleaning scallions.
  • The guanciale may be salty enough to season the ramps sufficiently.


  1. Slice the ramps where the stalks and leaves meet. The stalks will be cooked a few minutes ahead of time.
  2. In a heavy skillet over medium heat, cook the guanciale until light brown and crisp.
  3. Add the ramp stalks and cook for a few minutes, just until tender. Add the ramp leaves and cook for about a minute, just until wilted. Taste and season with salt and freshly ground pepper, if necessary.

Ramps Guanciale Bacon Saute

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38 Responses to “Sautéed Ramps in Guanciale”

  1. Rosa says:

    What a beautiful recipe! I love ramps!



  2. Maya says:

    I recently had guanciale at one of Mario’s restaurant and really liked it. Yet to buy ramps..

  3. lisaiscooking says:

    This is just another reason I need to get back to Chicago. We don’t have ramps down here (Austin). I can imagine the cooking aroma, and I think it would be great!

  4. kat says:

    Gorgeous! We get our first ramps this week, yea! I had guanciale for the first time at an acorn fed pig lunch & it was wonderful

  5. bee says:

    there’s something for you at jugalbandi woohoo!!!!

  6. Leela says:

    The opening picture showing the perfectly-cooked ingredients is tantalizing.

    The mental image of Batali getting cozy with pork? Not so much. :)

  7. Susan from Food Blogga says:

    I had never thought to use guanciale with greens. Thanks for the inspired idea, Jude. It must be wonderful since prosciutto and pancetta pair so well with sauteed greens.

  8. Caitlin says:

    Hahaha – I agree, pork jowl does sound better than pig face :) Someday, I’ll actually find some guanciale. Until then, bacon ain’t that bad!

  9. Madam Chow says:

    You’ve triggered a ramp and guanciale hunt on my part!

  10. Vicki says:

    So jealous! I can’t find either guanciale or ramps :(

  11. Joelen says:

    Mmm – what a delicious way to prepare ramps!

  12. Arundathi says:

    Jude – was wondering if you heard about the BBA Challenge over at Pinch My Salt.
    I thought of you when I read about it. :-)

  13. Bee, thanks! For once I don’t know what to say :)

    Leela, the orange clogs can serve as a distraction from the rest of the nastiness.

    Arundathi, thanks for the heads up! Just sent Nicole an email.

  14. katiek @kitchensidecar says:

    Hey Jude,

    ramps have been going around the locavore blogsphere (wow, that was a mouthful of generation Y lingo) like wildfire.

    I want to take part! Anyways, these guanciale look damn tasty. It is cured with a different flavor profile or is it the fatiness of the cheeks that makes it so much better than bacon? I don’t believe that it is smoked, so I would liken it to pancetta?

    YUM. This looks great.

  15. The Duo Dishes says:

    Yum pig face! Mario tossed it on a pizza at Pizzeria Mozza here in LA, and it’s so good. You realize you’ve showcased an unheard of ingredient to us? What’s more interesting than that!

  16. Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella says:

    This is fascinating! I haven’t heard of a lot of these ingredients before and hehe yes pork jowl sounds better than eating pig’s face!

  17. Sweatha says:

    Again new to me.Never seem ramps.

  18. Y says:

    MMmmm I love everything on that plate!

  19. Elizabeth says:

    Wow Jude! Guanciale? Sign me up for some of that! And ramps is another unknown to me, but I’m damn sure you made them extra delicious with that pork!

  20. Sara says:

    I got really excited when I saw ramps the other day at Whole Foods – then I saw they were $20/lb – yikes! This looks amazing, I love guanciale.

  21. Claire says:

    I’ve never tried ramps, but I am itching to try them now. Beautiful photograph of them!

  22. RebeccaC says:

    Okay, so I’ve never made or even tried ramps but I’d really like to. Is Green City the only hope of finding them? The local farmers market and my CSA don’t start until next month. Boo.

  23. Sara says:

    Awesome! I have never tried guanciale before. Though I will have to get through the pounds of homemade bacon in my freezer before I even consider buying it.

  24. Natashya says:

    I haven’t tried either, I am ashamed to admit. I do love Mario, and hope to try ramps one day.

  25. Gera @ SweetsFoods says:

    I’ve never tried guanciale before and sound very delicious with pork!

  26. Shari says:

    This sounds both interesting and intriguing! Looks like a great recipe. Thanks for sharing it!

  27. maris says:

    I saw ramps for the first time ever last week in the fine foods market near my apartment and had no idea what they were! I asked the store owner and he explained as best he could but finally told me to “just try them.” I haven’t yet but i did Google them – now reading this they sound even better!

  28. Jescel says:

    you made me laugh.. how about pig’s cheeks? lol! haven’t had both ramps nor pig jowls.. but if it’s that good, it’s worth the try…this food might be the one to avoid when on a date, huh? imagine eating all those onions?

  29. The Local Beet: Chicago » Thursday Local Links says:

    [...] local obsessed love a bit of link-love back.  More importantly, we love a good recipe.  Jude’s got a good one for ramps and guanciale.  The ramps may be hard to find already, but the recipe would work well [...]

  30. cakebrain says:

    In my humble opinion, pork fat makes everything taste amazing! The ramps look yummy!

  31. Spinachtiger says:

    I almost bought ramps yesterday, but at $20 a pound, I passed. Your’s look tasty.

  32. MyKitchenInHalfCups says:

    Pork jowl and ramps, I am impressed!
    Glad to see you in the BBA Challenge group!

  33. Katiek, I think guanciale is meatier and has a firmer texture than bacon. I’m pretty sure it has other seasonings in it. It’s also unsmoked, but very different from pancetta.

    Rebecca, Whole Foods still have them in stock around this time. I’d give them a call.

  34. pixen says:

    If I love stinky bean, Kimchi and Durian, this ramps won’t be problem LOL. This sure an unique plant in North America. Haven’t seen this in the racks in Belgium though.

  35. Girl Japan says:

    You are on a ramping roll…— $20 a pound? Whoa, where? Goodness that is insane? The photos look fabulous.

  36. Elizabeth says:

    This looks fantastic, Jude! But really? No more bacon? Guanciale do sound wonderful (I googled to learn that it’s flavoured with wine and herbs) but as they aren’t smoked, can they really replace bacon entirely?

    Lovely photos, by the way.

  37. Ramps says:

    [...] to for this [...]

  38. Jim Pelliccia says:

    Hi,this is Jim Pelliccia,just observed your Post on google and i must say this blog is great.may I share some of the information found in the website to my local friends?i am not sure and what you think?anyhow,Thank you!

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