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Pork Jowls and Cheeks


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#1 Busboy

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 06:09 AM

So, I never imagined a pork jowel could be so big, but the one I bought at the farmer's market yesterday is rather immense, two pounds of fatty pork goodness. Seems like it should be marinated, browned and braised and served atop lentils -- ie, treat it like belly -- but I am eager to hear other suggestions.

Coincidentally, a friend had a slice of jowel at a dinner at the brilliant CityZen Saturday night, but beyond tatsting a small sliver and gushing over it, I made no serious notes regarding its prep.

It's the best snow in four years here in DC, jowel seems like the perfect dinner on a day like this, so I'm putting myself in your hands.
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#2 zoe b

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 08:29 AM

ooh, you are so lucky--I have about 1/4 pound of jowl left from the last pig we bought--it is fabulous. I used it like guanciale and made this fabulous sauce for pasta from the NYT

http://www.nytimes.c...uanciale&st=cse

But I'm equally sure that it would be wonderful with lentils--and some roasted red pepper, maybe...


Zoe

#3 Mr Wozencroft

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 08:29 AM

I like to braise or confit . Low and slow is the way to go ;). Its good with mash and perhaps salsa verde or mustard. Once cooked and cooled you can also cut into hearty slices and fry them off. The possibilities are endless. Try looking east, red braised etc.

#4 Abra

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 08:51 AM

I'd make guanciale with it, personally.

#5 Busboy

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 09:05 AM

Coincidentally, we have guanciale in the fridge, courtesy of a friend who hits Arthur Avenue in the Bronx when he visits his daughter at Fordham.

Probably more interested in cooking as is than curing anything.

[How's Uzes? A friend of mine who turns out to be a secret artist just gave me an immense watercolor of a turret on the Duchy based on a picture I took (and that my wife smuggled to him). It's extraordinary and I almost bought a one-way to Nice-Cote d'Azure the instant I unwrapped it.]

Edited by Busboy, 02 March 2009 - 02:41 PM.

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#6 genarog

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 09:48 AM

My second choice would be grilling it, but considering the weather... my third choice would be the lentils you described.

You're lucky you can get your hands on pork jowls, I had to special order them. My first choice, Gunaciale is curing in the wine cooler.

#7 Nicholas Ellan

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 11:36 AM

Pork cheek braises to incredibly tender with great speed. So generally I recommend braise, because it's foolproof and the end product is pure delicious. 90 minutes will get you firm but tender, and 120 minutes will get you fork-tender.

One of my greatest hits was pork cheeks braised with poblano peppers (I believe the liquid was a bit of soy, a teensy bit of miso to emulsify, and a generous helping of mirin), served as an eggs benny. I find you don't need a lot of braising liquid as the cheeks will release a lot of juices. I just start it on the stovetop, put a lid on it, and stick it in the oven at 300 degrees for 90-120 minutes depending on desired consistency. Or longer if you want to be sure it melts in your mouth ;)

#8 Abra

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 12:23 PM

It's funny - I braise beef cheeks pretty often, but never pork cheeks. But when I do beef cheeks it's more like 8 hours in a slow oven than the two hours suggested above. But then, cows chew their cud, whereas pigs just...pig out...so maybe their cheeks have a much different level of tenderness.

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#9 Busboy

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 12:37 PM

Holy shit, my wife and I conspired to turn that hog jowl into some serious dinner. You should eat this stuff.

The recipe is vague, as it was mostly executed while drinking and arguing and the rub was applied after a late night with two of DC's finest sommelieres, but basically, we made a rub based on this recipe, only we substituted a great deal of five spice powder for the oregano, and smooshed it into the jowl.

After letting the pork rest overnight, we broiled it crisp on both sides and then threw it in a brazing pot on top of onions, apples, pork stock (we bought some neck bones and did a quick and dirty dirty stock) cider and Gewurtztraminer. Stephanie added a little brew of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and some mystery ingredient that looks like plum sauce but isn't to the braise and we shoved a covered pot in a 285 degree oven for three-ish hours.

Meanwhile, we threw some of the wine, lots of the pork stock, a gang of roasted garlic and some caramelized shallots into a pot and made a batch of lentils.

After about three hours, we pulled the jowl, chilled the braising liquid until we could skim the fat, and then re-warmed the meat in the resulting pot liquor. Served over the lentils, it was freakin' unbelievable. One of the best thing we've cooked in a long time. And, though there's an intimidating amount of fat in the raw materials, it renders out nicely.

Jowl makes pork belly taste like health food.
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#10 Abra

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Posted 10 March 2009 - 01:43 AM

That sounds awesome. No pictures?

#11 Busboy

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Posted 10 March 2009 - 02:41 AM

My photography skills are so poor compared to others who post here -- this means you, Abra -- that I'm too discouraged tto post.

Turns out, by the way, that the mystery ingredient was "Thick Soy Sauce" which, according to the ingredients list on the side of the jar, is molasses. salt and "soya bean extract" -- possibly not available as such in some locations but, I think, relatively easily duplicated.

Edited by Busboy, 10 March 2009 - 02:46 AM.

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#12 Mr. Delicious

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Posted 04 May 2009 - 12:28 PM

I am getting hooked up with like 5 lbs of pork cheeks, I only had them in New Orleans at Cochon and they were braised. What else can I do any ideas or recipes, I want to try them several ways.

#13 Qwerty

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Posted 04 May 2009 - 12:47 PM

Well, they are a very tough cut that need a lot of cooking, so slow and low is your best bet. A braise or a stew, or a slow roast.

I'm not sure if guanciale (sp?) is cheek. I mean, I know it is "jowl" but I don't know if jowl and cheek are the same or not. But guanciale is fantastic.

#14 Busboy

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 03:20 AM

Well, they are a very tough cut that need a lot of cooking, so slow and low is your best bet. A braise or a stew, or a slow roast.

I'm not sure if guanciale (sp?) is cheek. I mean, I know it is "jowl" but I don't know if jowl and cheek are the same or not. But guanciale is fantastic.

View Post

I am having a little trouble with the difference between cheek and jowl but, based on this chart, it appears that the jowl is the cut that runs from below the cheek, under the chin and back up the other side a bit.

Guanciale is jowl that has been cured.

I am no cheek expert but, in my experience, cheeks tend to be less fatty and more meaty than jowls, and the fat tends to be mixed a little more finely into the meat. But this is a relative thing; cheeks ain't lean. Once, in Paris, I was served a pork cheek that appeared to have been braised or slow-roasted and then roasted crisp on the outside. There was a spectacular crunch and then the whole thing melted ino my mouth. I'm going to attempt something like this next time I get near either a jowl or a cheek.
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#15 Mr. Delicious

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 05:52 PM

I decided to make a few things, one is a pork cheek chili, that is going in my slow cooker, and im marinating cheeks in mirin, soy, garlic, ginger, honey, sriracha, lime juice, and then tomorrow will braise this and maybe finish in the oven or broiler to crisp it up a bit. I also reserved a couple cheeks for Guanciale, which is now curing. I will report back soon, maybe with photos.

#16 Mr. Delicious

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 12:23 PM

I decided to make a few things, one is a pork cheek chili, that is going in my slow cooker, and im marinating cheeks in mirin, soy, garlic, ginger, honey, sriracha, lime juice, and then tomorrow will braise this and maybe finish in the oven or broiler to crisp it up a bit.  I also reserved a couple cheeks for Guanciale, which is now curing.  I will report back soon, maybe with photos.

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The cheek chili was ok, but the marinaded and braised cheeks were out of this world, utterly amazing. Trying to figure out how to put them on the menu, a buddy serves cheek tacos, wow would that be good.

#17 Mr. Delicious

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Posted 04 June 2009 - 05:01 PM

I decided to make a few things, one is a pork cheek chili, that is going in my slow cooker, and im marinating cheeks in mirin, soy, garlic, ginger, honey, sriracha, lime juice, and then tomorrow will braise this and maybe finish in the oven or broiler to crisp it up a bit.  I also reserved a couple cheeks for Guanciale, which is now curing.  I will report back soon, maybe with photos.

View Post

The cheek chili was ok, but the marinaded and braised cheeks were out of this world, utterly amazing. Trying to figure out how to put them on the menu, a buddy serves cheek tacos, wow would that be good.

View Post

The best thing i found to do with this meat was to shred it and put it in a chinese style steam bun, even better than the tacos with cabbage!

Now i also got jowls and will play with them this weekend. I am starting to wonder if I am a bad jew?

#18 Busboy

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Posted 04 June 2009 - 06:54 PM

Well, they are a very tough cut that need a lot of cooking, so slow and low is your best bet. A braise or a stew, or a slow roast.

I'm not sure if guanciale (sp?) is cheek. I mean, I know it is "jowl" but I don't know if jowl and cheek are the same or not. But guanciale is fantastic.

View Post

I am having a little trouble with the difference between cheek and jowl but, based on this chart, it appears that the jowl is the cut that runs from below the cheek, under the chin and back up the other side a bit.

Guanciale is jowl that has been cured.

I am no cheek expert but, in my experience, cheeks tend to be less fatty and more meaty than jowls, and the fat tends to be mixed a little more finely into the meat. But this is a relative thing; cheeks ain't lean. Once, in Paris, I was served a pork cheek that appeared to have been braised or slow-roasted and then roasted crisp on the outside. There was a spectacular crunch and then the whole thing melted ino my mouth. I'm going to attempt something like this next time I get near either a jowl or a cheek.

View Post

I happened to be at a charity event where a butcher was breaking down an Eco-Friendly piglet and I gently calmed his butchering long enough to get a proper definition of a jowl. Basically, it's the side of the pig's face (including the cheek, but when I stumble across "cheeks" it seems they've edited out the fattiest parts and focused on the main muscle) down across the neck to the edge of the shoulder, where the butt begins. Imagine slicing yourself from cheekbone to shoulder, then imagine you're a pig, and that's it.
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#19 RobertCollins

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 07:17 AM

I went in and talked to my local butcher [A&J's in Seattle]. He defined the cheek as that and the jowl as shown in the chart above.

His definition basically said the cheek is this small piece that moves/pulls the jaw bone up and the jowl as the big muscle from the shoulder to the jaw bone below.

The cheek is to be fast braised and the jowl is to his thinking for gaunciale.

I have 3# of cheeks coming. Any more suggestions?

Robert

Seattle


#20 Robert Jueneman

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Posted 15 June 2009 - 01:16 PM

Would pork jowls be a candidate for sous vide cooking? Or is the braising method better? Anyone tried both methods?

Pork belly was hard enough to find, and I'm quite certain I never seen things like jowls, or a pork neck, in any grocery store.

#21 justcookit

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Posted 01 July 2009 - 02:17 AM

I'm going with confit on this one. You can then turn them into pork cheek rillettes. Delicious

#22 Busboy

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Posted 01 July 2009 - 03:13 AM

I'm going with confit on this one. You can then turn them into pork cheek rillettes. Delicious

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Please elaborate. In my experience confit and rillettes are rather different products in that the former is cooked entirely in fat, after curing, while the latter is cooked only in the fat ingherent in the meat and a good slug of wine. Either approach sounds tasty, but I'm curious what you propose.

I was thinking of stuffing some raviolis with the pork cheek now in the freezer; rilletes might make an excellent start.
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#23 Culverin

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Posted 23 July 2011 - 10:11 PM

Hey guys, first post here. I've always been interested in food. In the last year or so, I've started being a bit more active in learning and experimenting in the kitchen.

anyways, first quick question.
What's the difference between pork jowl and pork cheek? I've tried google but no luck there.
Anyways, in case you wonder what project this is for, I'm trying to replicate Santouka's ramen.

Thanks!

#24 John Michael

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 08:03 AM

I think that the jowl is the meat on the bottom of the mandibular bone.

#25 rotuts

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 10:19 AM

Cheek is probably the mandibular muscle that closes the jaw. bite hard down and feel the sides of you face = mandibular muscle.

jowl is probably the platisma muscle. holding your mouth closed try to open it the platisma muscles become prominent.

the jowl probably is much more fatty think: a jowly pig has a lot of fat in that area. the platisma muscle are lots of thin strands as you can feel on your self: plenty area to deposit fat inbetween the thin strands

I have yet to locate locally either, pig or beef. but im on the game : locally grass fed ( +/- ) galloways are sold at their farm stand. they do not butcher their own beef. they may save some for me. its a question of $$/lb.

there used to be a large ethnic market in Boston really large like a small safeway, they had the best exotic meats anywhere. unfortunately that was before my SV days. but I used to get really good young goat there and in a low and slow BBQ with that.

cheeks and other things like that probably routinely go into "hot dogs" along with the lips and snouts!

Edited by rotuts, 24 July 2011 - 10:25 AM.


#26 ermintrude

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 12:45 PM

SV Pig cheeks are wonderful, got 1.5kg of them from Waitrose the other day, portioned up into 6's, cover with some mustard, herbs and then 48hrs at 60C. Now a pile of yummyness in my -1C drawer to eat over the next month.

Edited by ermintrude, 24 July 2011 - 12:46 PM.

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