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Adventures with Hog Jowls

kolgrim Jan 17, 2008 01:36 PM

I finally embarked on my hog jowl project yesterday. I have two jowls curing in salt, sugar, thyme and pepper for guanciale, I have two curing in maple, brown sugar and salt for bacon and I roasted one in the oven with salt, pepper, thyme and a little sugar.

The oven roasted jowl was sublime when it came out of the oven. It spent about 1.5 hours at 400 then I reduced the heat to 350 until it reached 185 degrees. The sugar was caramelized by the heat and fresh from the oven, the jowl was one of the tastiest things I have eaten in a long time. I fried up some thin slices for a sandwich for lunch today. Also quite good. It is quite fatty but a porkier flavor than bacon or pancetta.

As for the other four jowls, they have 5 more days to sit in their cure and then the guanciale will be hung up in my basement for three weeks and the jowl bacon will go in the smoker. I haven't decided on which wood I will use yet.

If people are interested, I will keep updating the project as it moves along. Unfortunately, my digital camera is broken otherwise there would be photos to accompany. Such is life.

Anyone else tried to make their own guanciale before? Or make Jowl bacon? Any suggestions as I move along?

  1. k
    kolgrim Jan 29, 2008 01:18 PM

    I smoked my jowl bacon last monday. We used hickory chips and smoked it for about 5 hours at a low temperature. The bacon is sublime, some of the best I have had. It is slightly sweet, and jus tmelts in your mouth. I have been frying up poeces that are about 1/4 inch thick or so. The outside crisps up nicely and the inside is still a little chewy. I have saved about a pound of it in my freezer to eat over the coming months. The rest i have eaten or given away.

    The guanciale is now hanging up down in my basement. There are a few places around the edges that got really dessicated by the rub, but on the whole it looks pretty good. I am going to try eating a little in a week and it hopefully will be done in two weeks.

    One thing to be careful of when you put it in the cure is to make sure that none of the jowl is folded up. I found a spot that did not come into serious contact with the cure while it was in the plastic bag I had it in. I coated it with salt and sugar and left it that side up in the fridge for three days before hanging it up. Hopefully it will turn out.

    1. Melanie Wong Jan 29, 2008 10:44 AM

      For the last couple years, it's been rather trendy at Hong Kong-style restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area to serve roast hog jowl (often called pork neck on the menu) made with char siu type seasonings and prep. The texture and flavor is sublime.

      A couple months ago I got my hands on some smoked hog jowls for $1.89/lb and used them in choucroute. The sweet porkiness of the firm fat from these jowls was so luscious in the dish, I'll never want to go back to regular slab bacon again for the prep.

      1. l
        lisa13 Jan 18, 2008 11:06 AM

        I've made guanciale several times and it really is dead simple. I leave it in the cure until it feels very firm to the touch, turning it daily, then when its done I rinse it well and and place it in the fridge (on a rack for good air circulation) to dry.

        The only issue I have had is with finding suitable drying areas. Our basement is straight out of Freddie Kruger with stone, old cement floors, oil furncace and exposed floor joists overhead. I just can't get it clean to the point I would feel comfortable leaving food down there, hence I use the fridge.

        If your cure mix is right, you shouldn't have any problems provided temps are cool.

        Enjoy - it is sooooo good!

        4 Replies
        1. re: lisa13
          kolgrim Jan 19, 2008 01:00 PM

          For the cure mix, I used Mario Batali's Recipe of 1/2 cup salt, 1/2 cup sugar 4 sprigs thyme and some peppercorns per 2 pounds of jowl.

          My basement was similar, but I was planning to hang it in a wardrobe box to keep it from the basement. When you use the fridge, do you still hang it for 3 weeks, or do you take more or less time?


          1. re: kolgrim
            lisa13 Jan 29, 2008 09:56 AM

            I use the same recipe, but I often throw in extra flavors like hot pepper or nutmeg or whatever else I want to experiment with.

            I usually start using the jowl after a couple of weeks of drying - it depends as each batch seems to be a bit different. But I generally continue to let it dry after the first use as does not hurt to keep aging it, and I have not had any problems with it drying out *too* much. I usually wrap it in waxed paper at some point when I think its done - the waxed paper lets it breathe a little.

          2. re: lisa13
            kolgrim Jan 19, 2008 01:01 PM

            Just saw it. A friend who was there when I was making it found the article too. I am so excited for it to be done.

            1. re: kolgrim
              MagnumWino Jan 29, 2008 10:26 AM

              kolgrim, I am very interested in seeing how your guanciale progresses. Next week a friend and I are having two pigs slaughtered to make sopressata, pancetta capicolla, pork chops and prosciutto. Last year was my first time involved with doing this, and I was mostly a spectator, but my friend who is originally from Abruzzo and owns an Italian rest. near my home has been doing it for awhile, but never has made guanciale, which is my fav for making bucatini all'Amatriciana. So I will be checking in with interest. I did print off the Batali recipe from the Babbo website, it does look rather easy. I hope your comes out great.

          3. m
            mpalmer6c Jan 18, 2008 10:39 AM

            In case you missed this article:


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