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yoboseyo

Butchering a pig head - uses for cheek muscle?

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I'm butchering a pig head to make guanciale. I'm not sure what I should do with the cheek muscle that's under the jowl. Is that usually a part of the guanciale itself? Since I'm curing, is there another charcuterie recipe for this muscle? Or should I just braise it or make it into mince?

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I just include the whole cheek area when I am making guanciale. Honestly it never occurred to me to try to separate it out.

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Sometimes I cure them, sometimes I don't; sometimes I'll cold smoke them, sometimes I won't. Sous vide 48 hours @ 60C is a good starting point (works well for beef cheeks too). Works great as a topping for ramen.

 

 ramen_cheek.thumb.jpg.ea1060e45f6fb83a7fd391e9f5951f6a.jpg

 

You can also braise them to death in whatever fashion you most find delicious. Stew them down with wine, tomatoes, and aromatics, and you've got the starting point for some solid porkface pasta or pollenta. If you ain't got time for that, you can also pressure cook them.

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6 hours ago, Chris Hennes said:

I just include the whole cheek area when I am making guanciale. Honestly it never occurred to me to try to separate it out.

I was thinking that,  but it's more work to remove it with the jowl, as you have to pry it out of its cavity. It's easy to remove the jowl just by cutting around the edge and ripping it off.  Plus, as as different muscle I thought it might better suited to something else.

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What are you doing with the rest of the head? If you're making a pâté you could consider separating it out as a more solid inclusion.

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10 hours ago, blue_dolphin said:

 

The whole head?  Have you considered a dried pig face? 🙃 

Unfortunately mine doesn't have ears, and it won't have a face after the jowl is removed so there's not much left.

 

8 hours ago, Chris Hennes said:

What are you doing with the rest of the head? If you're making a pâté you could consider separating it out as a more solid inclusion.

Maybe a head cheese

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So in the end I took off the cheek muscle, for a few reasons, namely:

  •  guanciale in its essence is just fat around a sliver of meat, and you're supposed to cut off the edges before cooking, and if you're doing that with the cheek, then there's not much cheek left
  • it's more work to remove the cheek with the jowl
  • some of the cheek recipes, namely the ramen look good! I have 8 small bits of cheek here that I'd love to put to use.

Hope the guanciale turns out well! I've been addicted to this, and have been using it in place of bacon ever since I found out about it!

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There isn't much juice worth the squeeze once the jowls and cheeks are removed, certainly not worth making pâté or anything that would resemble it since you are left with mostly skin (collagen) and a minuscule amount of meat in the snout or behind the skull.

Consider removing whatever skin is left, blanch it to get whatever impurities out, scrape the excess fat off and cook beans or hominy with the skin.  The skin will thicken the bean/hominy cooking liquid and you will be on your way to cassoulet or posole.  

Do you still have the tongue?

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18 hours ago, Baron d'Apcher said:

  

Do you still have the tongue?

 

yeap! that was going to make up the majority of the meat in my head cheese

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