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oh no, pork jowls

I grabbed this 3lb sack of fresh pork jowls today not knowing what to do with them, cause they looked fatty and delicious. my other recent mystery meat purchases have all worked out well. I got home and started googling and all the pork jowls I spy are smoked and cured. these are not. what do I do? I don't have any experience with smoking or curing and I don't know if I want to. I can't throw away 3 pounds of fatty looking special meat!!!! is anything to be done with fresh pork jowl? should I just give it away? I am the saddest I have ever been about pork!!!!

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  1. These can be fried, braised, made into a ragu.....

      1. Throw them in the slow cooker for a few hours, no liquid necessary. When cooked enough for the meat to shred, have a delightful messy time separating out meat, from fat, from other stuff (use your hands!), use the meat for tacos or whatever. You will have rendered out some lard to cook with. Put the unrendered fatty bits in a roasting pan in an oven at 300 to render out more fat and leave you with delicious cracklings (salted to taste). Throw out any bony bits and give the rest to the dog.

        3 Replies
        1. re: andrewtree

          do you think this would work in a Dutch oven in the oven? cause it sounds both delicious and closer to my skill set than curing/smoking. I don't have a slow cooker but this sounds like exactly what I want.

          1. re: andrewtree

            I would also rub with the seasoning of my choice, sear and then cook.

          2. Marinate in some soy sauce, hoisin, rice wine, garlic and ginger, with salt and sugar to taste, then stir fry.

            4 Replies
                  1. re: mwhitmore

                    Rule of thumb for tough cuts:

                    Hot and Fast


                    Slow and Low

                    Anything in between these two things will produce tough meat.

                1. Use them as you would use bacon...uncured and unsmoked, most likely best as an 'additive" to other stuff. The flavor is outstanding!
                  The fat rendered out can be used to grill meats and vegiies

                  1. They make a great stir-fry. Just be sure to slice thin and across the grain. Here's a photo of a Cantonese salt & pepper prep with chilis and green beans.

                    Here's roasted, then sliced and served with a dipping sauce at a Thai restaurant.

                    Another stir-fry, seasoned with Malay yellow curry and combined with yellow chives and bean sprouts.

                    Marinated char siu style and roasted,

                    I love the fatty, slighty chewy, and almost crunch of pork jowl meat. The fat is delightfully firm and sweet-tasting. Besides the texture, it's very delicious.

                    1. And if you find that three pounds is more than you want to eat fresh, you freeze the remainder. Or you can preserve some by making salt pork. Salt pork is about the easiest cured meat to make at home and uses ingredients you probably already have on the shelf.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        Melanie is right: it freezes quite well and cures easy (reverse that - as starting the cure while fresh is best, then freeze). just don't think it's out of your skill/skull set, as after all this is what sailors in the day of Herman Melville did to take in barrels on long journeys and then the concern was keeping splinters and sawdust out of the meat.

                        freeze it in small chunks, and when it's time to use, and still par-frozen (makes for easy cutting), mince it into a pan to render some of the fat before adding long-soaked black-eyed peas or other legumes for a good stew.

                        1. re: hill food

                          Melanie your photos and suggestions are inspiring

                          1. re: ramonasaur

                            I'm really jealous of your home cooking opportunity! Though seen with regularity at restaurants, I've never run across the fresh cut at the meat market, even Chinese ones. Maybe I'll special order pork jowls some day and play around with them in my own kitchen.

                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              where do you live? I got these in Brooklyn at the park slope food coop where different random cuts/organs tend to come through.

                      2. Guanciale.

                        I've got two of them hanging in my garage right now. Another week and it's pasta carbonara time.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: piano boy

                          Ya baby, Guanciale! I have been looking for jowls, been making my own pancetta and bacon for years.

                        2. Pork jowl (along with ears) is the traditional meat used in the Filipino dish sisig.

                          Pork jowls are suited to low and slow cooking. Filipino adobo and Chinese red cooking can be adapted to cook pork jowls.

                          You will find better internet search results if you look for "pork cheeks" instead of "pork jowls".

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: FoodPopulist

                            thank you - search terms are often everything ! Melanie Wong above posted all these gorgeous photos where the meat is designated pork neck, whch is another search term I'm going to try to use.

                            1. re: ramonasaur

                              Pork cheek is exactly that. Pork jowl can be the cheek and neck tissue or just the neck tissue. The cheek is more valuable so depending on the source of the meat, it is removed.

                              Niman Ranch used to sell the cheeks to mail order customers. Now they only go to restaurants. I LOVE them.

                              1. re: JudiAU

                                Burgers Smokehouse sells Pork (hog) Jowls.sliced and unsliced via mailorder

                                1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                  Hey fried clam! After some googling I discovered that too -- that the cheek and jowl are different, the cheek being much leaner or withits fat more incorporated into the meat. There are cheek-like pockets of muscle meat within the jowl I got, but there's also an inch thick layer of fat (skin?) on the outside, and then a super thick layer of what, when sliced, looks like bacon (in terms of fat/lean patterning). From my reading it does seem that the jowl stretches from the cheekbone down the side of the neck to the top of the shoulder/butt. And that's what this cut looks and feels like, although I can't tell if the cheek meat was removed from it or not. it's in the Dutch oven now so we will see what comes of it!

                          2. Why not cure them? Take half and rub them in salt etc. Let it sit and cure in the fridge for a week or two, I bet it will be good. The other half, I would make cracklings and then use in greens, or maybe beans. Save the rendered lard and use it to fry things, like eggs or potatoes. Yum.

                            1. Like meatloaf? Trip the light fantastic and move to terrines and pates.

                              Pork jowl is the better alternative in all recipes where they call for back fat to grind with pork or veal. They don't call for it because for most of us poor slobs it's hard to find.

                              For a garnish as an exposed, cooked smidgen of fat -- as in mortadella -- stick with back fat.

                              It's hard to stop when you get into terrines, pork, duck, whatever....

                              Also, they freeze perfectly, of course.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: rbraham

                                Yes, pork jowl fat is the preferred cut for its firm texture when making salumi with big chunks of fat embedded.

                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                  Wait, that means my post is false...

                                  I've used the jowl fat for the custom-percent portion to the lean pork/veal, and the "stiffer" _backfat_ for the embedded chunks. Admittedly, I'm a sucker for fat (caul, leaf, suet also clogging my freezer).

                                  1. re: rbraham

                                    I don't find fatback stiffer than jowl myself. For mortadella which is a softer cold cut, the back fat works for me. In drier salumi, I think jowl's firmness if preferable. I once ask a salumi producer in San Francisco what the difference in ingredients might be between its supermarket line and artisan line. He said that the artisan line uses jowl for the added fat.

                                    Jowl fat has a sweeter taste to me. I love your idea of grinding it to add to a meatloaf or terrine. The flavor will be better and not feel as greasy, I imagine.

                              2. Examine them to determine if they have the cheek meat in them. If they have the cheek meat then braise as a ragu or similar. Cheek meat is wonderful and then rest of the jowl will be fine. If you only have the jowl without the cheek I'd do a simple gluanciale. Expand your horizons!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: JudiAU

                                  Here's the pork cheek sandwich from the now-closed Bovolo (sobbing),

                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                    Melanie Wong, I think you're my new Internet crush. That looks SO good.

                                2. Ok so an update -- the jowl is currently submerged in stock and wine (white, is that bad?) with onions and celery in a 350 oven -- will test after 2 hours and then, if necessary, after 3 and 4.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: ramonasaur

                                    I think white is the correct wine. I can't remember if internal temp is mentioned here or even if doable, depending on how the meat laid out. But with big pieces I usually go for 180. You may want to turn it if the top get uncovered by the stock.

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      Thank you! Is the internal temp goal about making sure it's not undercooked, or making sure it doesn't over cook? (Ideally both obvi but Im wondering which one I should worry about more given the braise/Dutch oven setup.)

                                      1. re: ramonasaur

                                        The 180 is the temp that I shoot for when I want it all but falling apart tender. I do pork shoulders like that all the time.

                                    2. re: ramonasaur

                                      sounds good........can't wait for the result

                                      1. re: ramonasaur

                                        3.5 hours -- about 4 cups pulled pork messy fatty stuff -- super rich and good-- and almost an equal amount rendered fat, and a smaller amount of unrendered fat clouds. tacos? with a lot of cabbage slaw or pickled stuff to cut the richness. My life, sweater, hair, skin is all melted fat vapor right now.

                                        1. re: ramonasaur

                                          That looks great and tomorrow after chilling overnight, you'll be removing a lot of that fat from the top of the bowl. Good job :)

                                      2. I bought those same jowls from the same place you did (I can tell from the sticker labels). I froze mine until a few days ago, then when I wanted to cook it, Googled, and found this thread. Because I was in the exact same situation, for the same reason. Mine's in the slow cooker now, with soy sauce, rice wine, mellow barley miso, hoisin sauce, Bragg's amino whatever stuff that I wanted to use up, black and Szechuan peppercorns, cloves, star anise, garlic and ginger.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Maud

                                          I forgot, I also added some fish sauce to the above. Left the cooker on low overnight and am now eating some on top of this cornbread, which I highly recommend: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/jalapeno...
                                          Thanks for the thread, and the excellent advice, all.

                                          1. re: Maud

                                            Just aksing for an FYI: with the soy sauce, miso, braggs, and fish sauce - was it not too salty?

                                            1. re: rudeboy

                                              Not at all. I knew that was a danger, so I didn't use very much of any of them, and I didn't add any salt at all. No doubt the sweetness of the rice wine and hoisin also balanced out some of the saltiness.

                                        2. Go to a butcher shop and ask for the amount of 'pink salt' needed to wet brine 3 lbs of raw jowls. They will sell/give you something like half a teaspoon. Goggle up the info needed to wet brine the jowls for about four days.
                                          Do this. Then very gently slow simmer the jowls in just water until the internal temp is about 160 F. Now google up how to make char sui with the jowls. Do that.
                                          I recently made a large 'BB' using smoked pork jowl. WOW! I'll never use anything but smoked pork jowl when bacon etc is called for. Delicious.