What Is Pork Jowl Bacon Used For? The Complete Guide

Pork jowl bacon may not be as well-known as its traditional counterpart, but it’s a cut of meat that’s been used for centuries in various culinary traditions.

This fatty, flavorful cut comes from the head of the pig and is often cured and smoked to create a unique flavor profile. But what exactly is pork jowl bacon used for?

In this article, we’ll explore the many ways this underutilized cut of meat can be incorporated into your cooking, from seasoning beans and greens to serving as a main course.

So grab a slice of bacon and let’s dive in!

What Is Pork Jowl Bacon Used For?

Pork jowl bacon is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of ways. One of the most common uses is as a seasoning for beans and greens. The rich, smoky flavor of the bacon adds depth and complexity to these dishes, making them more satisfying and flavorful.

Pork jowl bacon can also be served as a main course, similar to traditional streaky bacon. It’s a popular ingredient in a full English breakfast, but it can also be used in sandwiches or chopped and used as a garnish.

In addition, pork jowl can be used as a binding ingredient in pork liver sausages such as liverwurst and braunschweiger. This adds a unique flavor and texture to these sausages, making them more interesting and flavorful.

Finally, pork jowl bacon is an underutilized cut that’s experiencing a revival among chefs and home cooks. As people strive to reduce food waste and explore new flavors, cuts like pork jowl are becoming more popular. So don’t be afraid to experiment with this delicious ingredient in your own cooking!

The History And Origins Of Pork Jowl Bacon

The history of pork jowl bacon can be traced back to different food traditions that have used this cut of meat as a fresh cut or as a cured pork product. In America, it is commonly known as jowl bacon or hog jowl, especially in the Southern United States, and is a staple of soul food. However, the culinary tradition of pork jowl extends beyond the United States.

In Italy, the cured non-smoked version of pork jowl is called guanciale. This Italian version has been used for centuries in traditional dishes such as spaghetti alla carbonara and amatriciana. Guanciale is made by curing the pork jowl with salt, sugar, and various spices such as black pepper and garlic. The curing process can take up to three weeks, and the resulting meat is rich in flavor and has a unique texture.

In other parts of the world, pork jowl bacon has been used in different ways. In China, it is often used in hot pot dishes, while in Korea, it is used to make kimchi stew. In Japan, it is a popular ingredient in ramen and other noodle dishes.

How Pork Jowl Bacon Is Prepared And Cooked

Preparing and cooking pork jowl bacon is a simple process that can be done in a variety of ways. One popular method is to cure and smoke the jowl, creating a flavorful and crispy bacon.

To start, weigh the jowl in grams and then weigh out 2% of that weight in regular salt and 0.25% of curing salt. Mix these salts together, along with any desired sugar, and massage the mixture into the jowl. Place the jowl in a vacuum bag or sealable plastic bag and refrigerate for a week.

After the jowl has been cured, remove it from the bag, rinse it quickly, and pat it dry. Set it on a rack in the fridge overnight. Then, get your smoker ready and set it at around 165F. Smoke the jowl for 3-8 hours, depending on your smoker’s temperature.

Alternatively, you can cook pork jowl bacon on the stovetop just like regular bacon. Slice the hog jowl into desired thickness for bacon and cook it over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, flipping it as it cooks.

For oven cooking, preheat your oven to 350F and bake the jowl until crispy. The length of time may depend on the thickness of the meat. For crispy jowl bacon in the microwave, cook it between sheets of microwave-safe paper towels on a microwave-safe plate for 4-6 minutes.

Another way to prepare pork jowl is by braising it in a flavorful liquid until tender. Preheat your oven to 300F and place the jowl in a rimmed baking dish. Season it with salt and pepper and pour a mixture of broth, vinegar, hot pepper sauce, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and dried thyme over it. Cover tightly with foil and bake for about 2 hours. Then, switch to broil mode and brown and crisp up the fat for around 2-3 minutes per side.

Pork Jowl Bacon As A Flavorful Addition To Soups And Stews

Pork jowl bacon is also a great addition to soups and stews. The richness of the bacon adds depth and complexity to the broth, making it more flavorful and satisfying. The bacon can be diced and added to the pot at the beginning of cooking or fried separately and used as a garnish.

One classic example of this is black-eyed peas and collard greens stewed with pork jowl, a popular tradition in the American South. The high fat content of the jowl gives the dish a decadent flavor that’s perfect for special occasions.

In Chinese cuisine, pork jowl is often braised or slow-cooked and served in stews, steamed buns, soups, or even on its own with fresh vegetables. The heavy marbling of the jowl creates a rich, buttery flavor that’s perfect for savory dishes.

Pork Jowl Bacon In Traditional Southern Cuisine

In traditional Southern cuisine, pork jowl bacon is a staple ingredient. It’s often used to season beans and black-eyed peas, adding a smoky depth of flavor to these classic dishes. Pork jowl bacon is also a key ingredient in collard greens and turnip greens, giving them a rich and savory taste.

On New Year’s Day, it’s a tradition in the South to eat pork jowls as a way to ensure health, prosperity, and progress in the coming year. This tradition dates back centuries and is still practiced today. The pork jowl is usually fried like bacon and served with black-eyed peas and collard greens.

Pork jowl bacon is also used in other Southern dishes such as cornbread dressing, gumbo, and red beans and rice. Its unique flavor and texture make it a popular ingredient for adding depth and complexity to these dishes.

Pork Jowl Bacon As A Main Course: Recipes To Try At Home

If you’re looking to try pork jowl bacon as a main course, here are a few recipes to get you started:

1. Pork Jowl BLT: This classic sandwich gets an upgrade with the addition of crispy pork jowl bacon. Simply cook the bacon in a skillet until crispy, then layer it on toasted bread with lettuce, tomato, and mayo.

2. Pork Jowl Carbonara: This Italian pasta dish is traditionally made with pancetta, but pork jowl bacon makes a delicious substitute. Cook the bacon until crispy, then add it to a mixture of eggs, Parmesan cheese, and black pepper. Toss with cooked spaghetti and serve.

3. Pork Jowl Tacos: For a twist on traditional tacos, try using pork jowl bacon instead of ground beef or chicken. Cook the bacon in a skillet until crispy, then chop it into small pieces. Serve in tortillas with your favorite toppings like salsa, avocado, and cilantro.

4. Pork Jowl Hash: This hearty breakfast dish is perfect for weekend mornings. Cook diced potatoes in a skillet until crispy, then add chopped pork jowl bacon and onions. Cook until everything is browned and crispy, then serve with eggs cooked to your liking.

No matter how you choose to use it, pork jowl bacon is a delicious and versatile ingredient that’s sure to add flavor to any dish.

The Health Benefits And Nutritional Value Of Pork Jowl Bacon

Pork jowl bacon is not only delicious but also packed with essential nutrients. It contains high levels of Vitamin B12, Vitamin B2, and Vitamin B1, which are essential for maintaining a healthy nervous system, promoting healthy skin, and aiding in the production of red blood cells.

Moreover, pork jowl bacon is also a good source of selenium, phosphorus, and Vitamin B5. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Phosphorus is essential for strong bones and teeth, while Vitamin B5 plays a crucial role in energy metabolism.

Additionally, fresh pork jowl bacon has an Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio of 2.5:1, which is significantly lower than conventional pork at 20:1 on average. This makes it a healthier option for those looking to reduce their intake of Omega-6 fatty acids, which can contribute to inflammation in the body.

It’s important to note that while pork jowl bacon can be a nutritious addition to your diet, it should be consumed in moderation as it is high in saturated fat and sodium. However, when enjoyed as part of a balanced diet, pork jowl bacon can provide a range of health benefits while also adding delicious flavor to your meals.