Pork Jowl Bacon: A Savory Cut with Culinary Versatility

Pork jowl bacon, a delectable cut derived from the pig’s cheek, holds a prominent place in culinary traditions worldwide. Its unique flavor and texture have made it a staple in both fresh and cured forms, adding a distinctive touch to various dishes. This comprehensive guide delves into the intricacies of pork jowl bacon, exploring its culinary applications, traditions, and storage methods.

What is Pork Jowl Bacon?

Pork jowl bacon is a cut of meat obtained from the cheek of a pig. It can be prepared fresh or cured using smoke and/or curing salt. In the United States, cured and smoked pork jowl bacon is commonly known as jowl bacon or, in the Southern United States, hog jowl, joe bacon, or joe meat.

Culinary Applications of Pork Jowl Bacon

Pork jowl bacon offers a wide range of culinary applications, adding its distinctive flavor and texture to various dishes:

  • Fried Jowl Bacon: Similar to streaky bacon, pork jowl bacon can be fried and enjoyed as a main course, often incorporated into a traditional full English breakfast.

  • Seasoning for Vegetables: Pork jowl bacon is frequently used as a seasoning for beans, black-eyed peas, or leafy green vegetables like collard greens or turnip greens, adding a rich, savory flavor to these dishes.

  • Garnish or Sandwich Ingredient: Chopped pork jowl bacon can be used as a garnish, similar to bacon bits, or incorporated into sandwiches, providing a burst of flavor and texture.

  • Binding Ingredient: Pork jowl meat can be used as a binding ingredient in pork liver sausages, such as liverwurst and braunschweiger, contributing to their texture and flavor.

Traditions in the United States

Pork jowl bacon holds a special place in Southern US tradition, particularly on New Year’s Day. A long-standing custom involves consuming black-eyed peas and greens with either pork jowls or fatback on this day, believed to bring prosperity throughout the new year. This tradition dates back centuries, with pork jowls and fatback symbolizing wealth and abundance.

Storage of Pork Jowl Bacon

Due to its cured nature, pork jowl bacon has a longer shelf life compared to fresh pork. It can be stored for extended periods without refrigeration, making it a convenient pantry staple.

Pork jowl bacon, with its unique flavor and versatility, has earned a well-deserved place in culinary traditions around the world. Whether enjoyed as a main course, a seasoning, a garnish, or a binding ingredient, pork jowl bacon adds a distinctive touch to various dishes. Its ability to be stored for extended periods makes it a practical and flavorful addition to any kitchen. As the demand for high-quality and flavorful pork products continues to grow, pork jowl bacon is poised to remain a popular choice among discerning consumers and culinary enthusiasts alike.

Pork Jowl Bacon: Better Than Regular Bacon? | Harry the Horse BBQ


Is jowl bacon better than regular bacon?

Jowl bacon is the fattiest of the bacons and has a rich, almost smoky/sweet flavor different than traditional (from the pork belly). While they can be enjoyed cooked up as is like the other bacons, I personally love using jowl bacon as I would bacon ends, and cook with it.

What does pork jowl taste like?

Usually, a lump of inexpensive meat that comes uncut on the “rind,” wrapped in food film at the pork end of the meat case, hog jowl lends rich flavor to beans, peas, and greens—it tastes a lot like bacon but has a silkier texture.

What is the difference between cottage bacon and jowl bacon?

Cottage bacon is cut from the shoulder of the pork, thin, meaty, and lean and usually oval shaped. After the shoulder is cured, it is sliced into oval pieces and the flat pieces are usually fried or baked. Jowl bacon comes from the cheeks of the pork, which are cured and smoked.

Why is pork jowl so cheap?

Cheeks are so cheap because almost no one bothers to use them. Main reason for that is that they can be a bit of work to trim (for unexperienced hom cooks) and they take quite some time to get tender, so they’re not exactly a ‘fry and go’-affair.

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