The last time I went to the Somerville Winter Market (FYI - there are 2 more Saturdays before it's over for the year!) I was lucky enough to find Pork Jowl at the Austin Brothers Farm stand. I have a history with Austin Brothers, I actually drove out to their farm in Belchertown, MA to buy pork belly when I made my own panchetta. I knew I had to buy the jowl and figure out what to do with it later. Don't you love impulse buys? A craving for pork buns a few days later was all I needed to get going with this recipe.
You may notice, pork jowl kinda looks like pork belly (kinda looks like bacon). That's cause they are very similar cuts of meat from very different places on the pig. Pork jowl is most commonly used to make guanciale, which is very similar to bacon.
I made a spicy-sweet chipotle braising liquid for the jowl.
In the oven for 7 hours she goes.
When it came out, I put it right into the fridge to cool and solidify a bit. If I sliced it right away, it would just fall apart. I also put the braising liquid (fat removed) into the food processor with some honey to make a smooth sticky sweet glaze.
Buns steaming away.
Fry up the pork nice and crispy.
Add the glaze and layer up the buns.
A lot of work, but man was the payoff great.
These little sandwiches were fantastic. You could really taste the beautifully raised meat from Austin Brothers, and the textures and flavors were perfect. I recommend this endeavor to anyone with a lazy Sunday coming up! Just remember, the jowl shrinks a lot while cooking!
An onion, a full can of chipotles in adobo, 4 cloves garlic, 2 tablespoons molasses, a cup of orange juice, and a cup of white vinegar in the food processor make up the braising liquid. Roast at 250 for about 7 hours. Remove from the oven and place in the fridge for about an hour to cool and harden a bit. This will prevent it from falling apart when you slice it.
When you remove it from the fridge, the fat in the pan should also be hardened. Remove the fat and place the remaining braising liquid in the food processor again with some honey. It will become smooth and slightly sticky, perfect for a glaze.
Slice the jowl thick against the grain. Remove a little of the fat, but keep most of it because at this point it is meltingly tender and very tasty. Sear the pieces of jowl on all sides in some hot oil and at the last minute, add your sauce to the pan to glaze the pieces of jowl. Remove from heat.
The bun recipe is here. Top your buns with some sliced cucumbers and pickled carrots and daikon.