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What Is Pork Jowl?

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Are you a pork lover? If so, then you’ve tried out different types of pork cuts. But have you heard of the pork jowl? As it’s not commonly available, your butcher will offer this pork cut on request.  The cut is especially delicious, it’s meaty but requires slow cooking just like these pork country ribs

roasted pork jowl on a plate

Pork jowl is retrieved from the pig’s face or head. It’s a great substitute for pork belly because it has a substantial layer of fat. When you get this cut, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is how to cook it. 

If you enjoy a bit of meatiness, you can slice the jowl into cubes and stew it. In certain parts of the world like the United States and Italy, it is made into bacon.

Getting the Perfect Cut

It’s always important to decide how much time and effort you want to spend in the preparation and cooking process. Selecting the right cut will allow you to spend less time in both processes.

While steak and pork chops require more preparation time but less cooking time, your pork jowl cut may come with more preparation and cooking time. Where this may seem like a downside, the end result is well worth the hassle. 

Remember the following when buying pork jowl:

  • Avoid pale cuts or any cut that comes in packaging that has visible liquid inside it. This could mean that your pork cut is not fresh. Instead, go for pork cuts with a pinkish-red color, symbolizing fresh jowl that’s ready for use. 
  • Look for pork that has marbling or small flecks of fat. Marbling is what adds flavor to your pork. Therefore, you should go for pork jowl with marbling or small flecks of fat as you’ll end up with a more flavorful dish.
  • Check the cut for any dark spots or a dark-colored bone. Your pork jowl should not only be flavorful but it should also come from a healthy pig. Thus, a cut that comes with dark spots or a dark-colored bone,is probably not from a healthy pig. Avoid this at all costs. 
  • Selecting the right thickness will leave you with a juicy cut. No matter your cooking method; whether you want to grill, or fry, a thick cut (one or one and a half inches) will always get the job done.
  • Sniffing is one of the best ways to check freshness. A fresh, high quality, pork jowl cut doesn’t have any sour, metallic or putrid odor. The last thing you want to do is go home with pork jowl that has already gone bad. After your “sniff test”, check the “sell by” date on the packaging to ensure your selection will remain fresh even if you decide to store it for a while. 

Top Pork Jowl Cooking Tips

When cooking pork jowl, these tips will come in handy: 

  • Your pork will become tough and dry when you overcook it. Cooking pork to the recommended standards is the best way to enjoy a safe and juicy meal.  According to the FDA, you should cook all your pork cuts at  145°F. This will result in pink tinted pork and the meat will be juicy and tender.
  • If you choose to fry or saute your pork jowl, don’t cover your pan because it will lock in moisture and cause your meat to steam or braise. 
  • Lightly moisten your pork jowl with vegetable oil so it can remain moist throughout the cooking process. 
  • Want to roast your pork jowl? Sear all sides to create a flavorful crust on the meat
  • Don’t overcrowd your pork cuts. Leave spaces between them to allow for even cooking.

If you’re looking for speed and convenience while cooking, any pork cut, the jowl included, go for boneless cuts. This always hastens the cooking process. However, it means that you may have to sacrifice some flavor seeing as bones create a juicy and more flavorful broth. Boneless cuts also tend to be more expensive than their counterparts. 

There you go! Everything that you need to know about pork jowl! The next time you go to your butcher, ask for a fresh, thick cut and cook it to perfection! Our collection of amazing recipes will act as your starting point!

Thinking of showing off your cooking skills at a friends or family gathering? You can check out these tasty pork jowl recipes

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