Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It's a Pig Jowl Thing!

Two more jowls are hitting the cure chamber today.  You may remember them from my first blog on Guanciale.  I made a couple of important promises to myself and my friends when I started my Charcuterie endeavor.  #1, if I ever have a doubt that the project would be safe or not, I will toss it and start over (Trust me this is harder than it sounds when you think of the money and time invested), and #2, is to use only the Highest quality, sustainable ingredients.  I prefer to get my veggies from farmers markets and my meats to be of the Heritage variety.  There are really two big breeds of Heritage pork right now, the Berkshire and the Mangalitsa.  I use the Berkshire, not only because it's freaking amazing, but I know a really good farmer that is known across the country, and he is local, so there.  That being said I got two beautiful jowls a couple of weeks ago and prepared them in two completely different ways.  One was more traditional with very fresh herbs and garlic, and the next I did in a southern Italian, Calabrian style, spicy and smokey.  Lets talk more traditional first.  I got some amazing herbs from my buddies that have an amazing restaurant here in Memphis.  If you are ever near stop by!!! Andrew Michaels Italian Kitchen.  Here we go.

  • 1kg Heritage pork jowl
  • 70g Salt (Kosher, I use Morton's)
  • 70g Sugar (superfine)
  • 15ea Tellicherry Black Peppercorns
  • 1 bunch Thyme
  • 2 Bay leaves, Fresh
  • 4 Juniper Berries
  • 10g Garlic minced, or 2 large cloves.
  • 1tsp Pink salt(optional, I use to maintain a good color and prevent food poisoning)
  1. Rinse and pat the Jowl dry, Remove any stray tissue and any glands.  The glands will look like little fatty discs that are off color.
  2. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a spice grinder and pulse until well blended and evenly crushed.
  3. Place the Jowl in a non reactive container and rub the dry cure all over the jowl ensuring that you get an even coat and cover all of the sides.  Place the Jowl in a Ziploc bag, place in a container and refrigerate until it feels stiff, kind of like squeezing a tennis ball, it still has some give but is not squishy like raw meat, about 7 to 10 days depending on the fat to meat content.  Make sure you overhaul the jowl everyday.  Overhauling is where you take the jowl out of the fridge and redistribute the cure and massage the meat.  Flipping the meat before placing back in the fridge.
  4. Remove the jowl after it has cured and rinse well under very cold water to remove all residual cure, pat the jowl very dry.
  5. Poke a hole in a corner of the jowl about one inch in and slip a long piece of butchers twine thru the hole.  Hang in cure chamber until completely stiff to the touch but not hard through out.  It should have a little give.  Should take between 2 and 4 weeks to dry depending on temp and humidity.  The longer you dry the Porkier and more intense the flavor will get.  See Below.

This is the jowl, after being rinsed dried, and ready to be tied.  Don't worry if there is a little bit of the herbs stuck to the outside, its fine.  I am really into this sausage called N'duja it is a soft, spreadable Hot sausage from Calabria.  I had it when I was in the Marine Corps a lifetime ago.  I found a blog called Sausage Debauchery  He is an avid Charcuterie guy and got me inspired to try an nontraditional Calabrian spicy and smokey Guanciale.  See below for the recipe.
  • 1kg Heritage pork Jowl (2 lbs)
  • 70g Kosher salt
  • 70g Sugar superfine
  • 6g Hot Szeged Paprika
  • 6g Cayenne Pepper
  • 6g Smoked sweet Paprika
  • 15 Tellicherry peppercorns crushed
  • 4 Juniper berries
  • 2 Bay leafs crushed
  • 10g Garlic minced
  • 1tsp pink salt (optional)
Technique is exactly the same as above.  Ensure you wait until the jowl is cured.  Since it is mainly fat it is not going to lose as much liquid as the other cuts we have looked at in the past.  See pics below for the Calabrian Guanciale and the hanging of both.

Look how rich and spicy this looks.  It smells amazing.  You can almost feel the heat coming off of it and its has a really sweet essence to it.  This is going to be amazing in some past!!  Check out how the cure chamber is looking.  My first guanciale is about ready to come out, I am giving it one more week then it will be living in my belly!!

I will be posting the recipes these little beauty's will be in soon.  Stay tuned this week.  I am going to get my smoker set up for the Bacon that is coming out of cure this Sunday for an all day smoke.  Then getting ready to tackle the N'duja.  I tested some of the chili's the other day and DAMN, good and spicy.  Remember if you like the blog feel free to post some comments, or follow.  I will be posting on facebook and twitter as well.  Its all about the MEAT!!

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