WHAT IS A PORK CHEEK?
Also known as pork jowls, this lean cut is vastly underrated. When cooked properly it’s both moist and flavorful. In the States they’re often smoked while in central Italy the jowls are cured (called guanciale). According to Chef Marc Matsumoto “pork cheek is porcine perfection, taking the best qualities of a tasty cut like shoulder and marbling in a lattice of fat between the pink strands meat. When braised, the pieces of meat are almost imperceptibly suspended in a mesh of fat, that instantly liquefies when it enters your warm mouth.”
WHERE IS THIS CUT LOCATED?
This cut of meat is below the eyes and is located to the left and right of the pig’s mouth.
ARE PORK CHEEKS AND JOWLS THE SAME?
They are slightly different, with the jowl being lower on the face and hanging off the jaw. In contrast the cheek is higher up below the eye sockets.
HOW LONG DO I COOK PORK CHEEKS FOR?
This recipe depends on what else is cooking with your protein, but in general cook at a low oven heat (around 170 C / 338 F) for 2 to 3 hours. You want to give the marbled fat time to liquefy. Apple based liquids and alcohols are also popular for braising pork cheeks.