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  • Post #181 - May 13th, 2009, 2:43 pm
    Post #181 - May 13th, 2009, 2:43 pm Post #181 - May 13th, 2009, 2:43 pm
    razbry wrote:A friend of mine just told me that the best bacon was made from the hog jowl. I never heard of this. Does anyone have any experience of hog jowl? :mrgreen:

    I got some jowls earlier today at Peoria Packing (call ahead--ask for Andy), and am curing some guanciale this moment. If you smoke it instead of hanging and drying it after the cure, you'll get hog jowl bacon. Ronnie_suburban mentions making hog jowl bacon in this thread.
  • Post #182 - May 14th, 2009, 8:09 am
    Post #182 - May 14th, 2009, 8:09 am Post #182 - May 14th, 2009, 8:09 am
    I just looked over the suggested thread...interesting stuff! Binko, have you ever tried smoking hog jowl? Has anyone here on this web site? Is there a taste difference? Or are just talking about ratio of fat to meat? I'm curious!
  • Post #183 - May 14th, 2009, 8:34 am
    Post #183 - May 14th, 2009, 8:34 am Post #183 - May 14th, 2009, 8:34 am
    I have not smoked it but I have made guanciale. Mainly it's just really a lushly fatty piece of meat, but every part of the pig has a different texture/flavor, so I'll be interested to hear what the report is on how it compares to belly bacon.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
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  • Post #184 - May 14th, 2009, 8:35 am
    Post #184 - May 14th, 2009, 8:35 am Post #184 - May 14th, 2009, 8:35 am
    My experience with jowl is that there's a marvelous texture to it, quite different from other cuts.

    Geo

    PS. BTW picked up 150 lbs of Large Black Hog yesterday from a farmer in Central Ontario. I'll report asap.
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #185 - May 14th, 2009, 2:53 pm
    Post #185 - May 14th, 2009, 2:53 pm Post #185 - May 14th, 2009, 2:53 pm
    razbry wrote:I just looked over the suggested thread...interesting stuff! Binko, have you ever tried smoking hog jowl? Has anyone here on this web site? Is there a taste difference? Or are just talking about ratio of fat to meat? I'm curious!


    This is my first curing experience with hog jowls. When I've had (unsmoked) jowl before, I would describe the fat as being creamier and porkier than that from the belly. Right now, I'm curing three jowl pieces. I have four more in the freezer (hey, it was only $1.39/lb). The pieces I got from Peoria are definitely jowl, but seem to either be butchered in two or the cut is abbreviated, as each piece weighs about a pound and a half. (I almost made the mistake of ordering cheek meat, which I didn't realize is a different cut and comes in much smaller, meatier pieces. Luckily, Andy figured out it was jowl I was searching for, given my description.) If I do end up smoking one of the jowls as bacon, I'll let you know.
  • Post #186 - May 14th, 2009, 3:40 pm
    Post #186 - May 14th, 2009, 3:40 pm Post #186 - May 14th, 2009, 3:40 pm
    Jowls are often slashed apart by the health inspectors looking for disease. Actually getting a whole jowl through the processing process unscathed is reportedly something of a challenge.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #187 - May 14th, 2009, 9:01 pm
    Post #187 - May 14th, 2009, 9:01 pm Post #187 - May 14th, 2009, 9:01 pm
    After Binko alerted us to the jowls, I stopped in a grabbed a few. They are sitting in their salt cure (from Charcuterie) at this time. After a few bacon juice incidents, I decided to try a vacuum sealed bag. Does anyone know if this will impair the curing process? My thought is that the cure will have less room to move around which will keep it in better contact with the pork, but who know? I look forward to hanging these bad boys soon.
  • Post #188 - May 14th, 2009, 9:41 pm
    Post #188 - May 14th, 2009, 9:41 pm Post #188 - May 14th, 2009, 9:41 pm
    After a few bacon juice incidents


    Duct tape solves all.

    I think it's possible a vacuum seal will leave some spots uncured. Of course, you could seal minus the vacuum-- just get most of the air out, then manual seal like you do the bottom.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #189 - May 15th, 2009, 11:20 am
    Post #189 - May 15th, 2009, 11:20 am Post #189 - May 15th, 2009, 11:20 am
    I just finished smoking my first batch of belly bacon. I didn't take pictures this time around, but all I could say is that the bacon is amazing. I just hot smoked it in the WSM the normal way (temp @ 225 or so) until the meat reached an internal temp of 150. (Actually, it hit 155/160--I walked away from it for a little bit too long.) Right off the smoker, the bacon is incredibly porky, rich, and smoky--nothing at all like the store-bought varieties. It was mostly that immediate flavor of pork that won me over--and this is just using the bog standard Peoria Packing pork belly (sold as "bacon"). I can't wait to cool it down and fry it up tomorrow for breakfast. I made three different kinds: one with Hungarian paprika & cure, one with a standard cure, and one with a jerk-inspired cure (allspice, thyme, black pepper, red pepper.) We'll see how they compare. Based on these results, I'll probably reserve one of the jowls for hot-smoking.
  • Post #190 - May 24th, 2009, 7:40 pm
    Post #190 - May 24th, 2009, 7:40 pm Post #190 - May 24th, 2009, 7:40 pm
    With the jowls hanging to dry for a few weeks after curing, I wanted to combine two project into one super-project.

    Making bacon sausage.

    After consulting with a few sausage making experts, I devised a formula which includes slab bacon (homemade), fresh pork belly, tellicherry pepper, and maple syrup. My biggest concern is having the richness that is bacon fully in sausage form, but the fresh belly cuts it along with the sweetness of the syrup. The tellicherry pepper adds some bite to the sausage.

    Image

    Image

    Image

    Image

    The one oddity was the cooking of the sausage. The casing must have kept too much pressure inside the sausge causing tearing of the casing. My thought is that the temp of the fat was too hot and built up steam from the meat. Next time I will score the sausage in a few spots. The sausages were great served on a bun with baby arugula dressed in olive oil and red wine vinegar and topped with tomato confit (also from Chacuterie).
  • Post #191 - May 29th, 2009, 1:31 pm
    Post #191 - May 29th, 2009, 1:31 pm Post #191 - May 29th, 2009, 1:31 pm
    I finally got around to smoking some more belly and hog jowls:

    Image

    Image

    This bit of belly was a lot fattier than my last, but that's fine by me. My first foray into jowl bacon leads me to these observations: The final product tastes porkier and more intense than the belly bacon and the fat is somewhat softer and silkier. The jowl bacon doesn't make for uniformly-sized pieces, but that doesn't bother me.

    Oh, and the current state of my basement:

    Image

    The pancetta was just hung, and the guanciale has been up for about 11 days. It still looks like it has a good 10-14 days to go. It's still fairly soft to the touch, but has lost quite a bit of moisture so far. Can't wait until it's ready.
  • Post #192 - May 29th, 2009, 2:23 pm
    Post #192 - May 29th, 2009, 2:23 pm Post #192 - May 29th, 2009, 2:23 pm
    Looks great, Binko!
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #193 - May 29th, 2009, 2:42 pm
    Post #193 - May 29th, 2009, 2:42 pm Post #193 - May 29th, 2009, 2:42 pm
    Awesome posts and photos msmre and binko. I'm totally impressed! :D And thanks for the assessment of jowl vs belly bacon.
  • Post #194 - June 10th, 2009, 8:11 am
    Post #194 - June 10th, 2009, 8:11 am Post #194 - June 10th, 2009, 8:11 am
    And now to go from something sublime: Binko's fine effort, to something a whole lot less sublime: bacon vodka. Well, why not, eh?

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #195 - June 13th, 2009, 2:21 pm
    Post #195 - June 13th, 2009, 2:21 pm Post #195 - June 13th, 2009, 2:21 pm
    After about 3 weeks hanging, I have pulled the guanciale from the cellar. It looks great and am looking forward to dropping it into a carbonara tomorrow night. I was surprised by the fat content. It looks awesome.

    Image

    Image
  • Post #196 - June 15th, 2009, 11:47 pm
    Post #196 - June 15th, 2009, 11:47 pm Post #196 - June 15th, 2009, 11:47 pm
    Those look great! How'd the carbonara turn out? Your finished product looks quite a bit softer and less dry than mine. I must have a drier cellar. I just had a friend bring in some farm-raised pork a couple days ago from Iowa. I'm excited about this. The jowls are about 2 - 2 1/2 pounds a piece and a lot meatier than the Peoria Packing jowls (I'm not sure whether this is a good thing or not, necessarily, but it looks quite beautiful). The skin from the jowls and the belly is the softest skin I've encountered on a pig. Can't wait to see how it turns out, but I may have to spring for a wine fridge or something to hang the meat, as it looks like it's finally going to warm up here.
  • Post #197 - June 16th, 2009, 7:18 am
    Post #197 - June 16th, 2009, 7:18 am Post #197 - June 16th, 2009, 7:18 am
    The Carbonara was excellent. The guanciale has a lot more pork funk than pancetta or bacon. The cooking process differed substantially as well. Since the piece is smaller than pancetta and it was dried for 3 weeks, there was virtually no skrinkage. It went from creamy to transluscent to crispy.

    The guanciale coming off of the hang may look soft, but it wasn't. The fatty exterior was no longer pliable and the inside was very dense. Think coppa from Riviera. The appearance may be more pink than most because I used the optional pink salt, as noted in Ruhlman.
  • Post #198 - June 16th, 2009, 8:09 am
    Post #198 - June 16th, 2009, 8:09 am Post #198 - June 16th, 2009, 8:09 am
    With a lot of inspiration from this thread, our pal Jess took her 5.5lb share of the belly of Our Canadian Pig, and is turning it into a glorious pancetta. Here's a shot of things in progress, at about day 10:



    Image


    It looks and smells just great!

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #199 - June 16th, 2009, 8:50 am
    Post #199 - June 16th, 2009, 8:50 am Post #199 - June 16th, 2009, 8:50 am
    I love making meat too, but I don't normally hang it next to my Old Masters...

    Looks great!
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #200 - June 16th, 2009, 10:25 am
    Post #200 - June 16th, 2009, 10:25 am Post #200 - June 16th, 2009, 10:25 am
    Uh, Mike G do NOT ask what room of Jess' house has the coolest, most uniform temps, and therefore qualified as the Place to Mature the Piggie. You don't want to know...

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #201 - June 16th, 2009, 10:39 am
    Post #201 - June 16th, 2009, 10:39 am Post #201 - June 16th, 2009, 10:39 am
    Binko wrote:Oh, and the current state of my basement:
    Image

    What do you do about drippage during this process? Are you concerned about insects, rodents, or dogs that can jump?
    I could see building a "curing cage" covered in window screening, with a drip pan floor, and a series of hooks in the top.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #202 - June 16th, 2009, 10:47 am
    Post #202 - June 16th, 2009, 10:47 am Post #202 - June 16th, 2009, 10:47 am
    You know, I thought it would be all drippy, but it wasn't. At least not that I have noticed. The outside surface of the pork skin has this "sweaty" look to it, but that's about it. I haven't noticed any insects around, either. No pets here, so no worries for that. I took about an inch of the pancetta (which still has about a week to go, I think) to my friend who has a professional meat slicer last week, and, wow, when sliced thinly and served as an antipasto, it was just melt-in-your-mouth goodness. I was really surprised, as slicing it as thin as I could with a knife, I could only achieve a chewy texture. Sliced thinly with a meat slicer, it had the texture of a good prosciutto. LIke I said, the flavor itself was good, but it wasn't transcendent. Honestly, it tastes a lot better fried as a fat base for other dishes. It's still a little young, but I also think a commercial product like that from Peoria Packing isn't going to yield something that's going to blow you away. We'll see what time does to it, and we'll see what the Iowa pork yields. Also, time to get a meat slicer.
  • Post #203 - June 16th, 2009, 10:54 am
    Post #203 - June 16th, 2009, 10:54 am Post #203 - June 16th, 2009, 10:54 am
    Binko, be sure to spend what it takes to get a *real* meat slicer. I paid c. $100US for this one , and it just can't do the job. It flinches when faced with the simplest task beyond, say, bologna. Plus, it's a real bugger to clean.

    Any suggestions (? Mike G ?) about a decent meat slicer that wouldn't look entirely out of place in my kitchen?

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #204 - June 16th, 2009, 11:12 am
    Post #204 - June 16th, 2009, 11:12 am Post #204 - June 16th, 2009, 11:12 am
    Geo wrote:Binko, be sure to spend what it takes to get a *real* meat slicer. I paid c. $100US for this one , and it just can't do the job. It flinches when faced with the simplest task beyond, say, bologna. Plus, it's a real bugger to clean.

    Any suggestions (? Mike G ?) about a decent meat slicer that wouldn't look entirely out of place in my kitchen?

    Geo


    Here's a link to Cabela's slicers. They've got a pretty good selection, including the Waring Pro you linked to above. They've got a mid range line as well as a more pro looking one.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #205 - June 16th, 2009, 11:17 am
    Post #205 - June 16th, 2009, 11:17 am Post #205 - June 16th, 2009, 11:17 am
    I'm still handslicing, one, because even the biggest home slicers aren't big enough for bacon, that is, a foot-wide pork belly, and two, because I don't have a place to leave it sitting out (drawing the curiosity of my kids). So I don't really have an answer, no.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #206 - June 16th, 2009, 12:28 pm
    Post #206 - June 16th, 2009, 12:28 pm Post #206 - June 16th, 2009, 12:28 pm
    Geo wrote:Binko, be sure to spend what it takes to get a *real* meat slicer. I paid c. $100US for this one , and it just can't do the job. It flinches when faced with the simplest task beyond, say, bologna. Plus, it's a real bugger to clean.


    My friend has a deli slicer which he paid $250 (used) for and is willing to sell to me for the same price, as he's looking to upgrade to a Globe. It slices whole legs of prosciutto and my pancetta paper-thin (you could read newsprint through it) without any sort of problems, so I'm eying that one. I can't remember the brand, off hand. My only issue with the slicer is where the heck to put it. I would have to keep it in the basement, as there's simply no room in the kitchen.
  • Post #207 - June 16th, 2009, 4:06 pm
    Post #207 - June 16th, 2009, 4:06 pm Post #207 - June 16th, 2009, 4:06 pm
    I made Emeril's "tangerine braised pork belly"....though I had to use Orange juice as I have'nt found tan. juice here in the Islands.
    Several friends said it was the best pork the've ever tasted.
    It's really, really good.

    P.S. I can't find pink salt - for my fresh bacon - anywhere - or even Morton's quick cure...any ideas?
  • Post #208 - June 16th, 2009, 5:33 pm
    Post #208 - June 16th, 2009, 5:33 pm Post #208 - June 16th, 2009, 5:33 pm
    Tomtom wrote:I made Emeril's "tangerine braised pork belly"....though I had to use Orange juice as I have'nt found tan. juice here in the Islands.
    Several friends said it was the best pork the've ever tasted.
    It's really, really good.

    P.S. I can't find pink salt - for my fresh bacon - anywhere - or even Morton's quick cure...any ideas?


    I got mine mail order through Americanspice.com. What islands do you live on? You could also find sodium nitrite or potassium nitrite at a pharmacy (or get it ordered through one). Be careful, because pink salt is 93.5% sodium chloride (table salt) and 6.25% sodium nitrite, so you have to adjust your amounts of pure nitrite substantially for recipes calling for pink salt (or, easier still, make your own pink salt using the proportions above.) The general rule is 0.25 oz (7 grams) of sodium or potassium nitrite per 100 pounds (45 kg) of meat.
  • Post #209 - June 18th, 2009, 1:00 pm
    Post #209 - June 18th, 2009, 1:00 pm Post #209 - June 18th, 2009, 1:00 pm
    I am about to start my pork belly project, which will including making bacon, pancetta, and a few pork belly dinners if everything goes well. Right now I am struggling with the decision to buy a belly from a butcher in town (i.e. Peoria) or try to get one from a farm at Green City and whether or not I want the skin on. My buddies that will be helping me out want one with the skin on so we can make braised pork belly with the skin on. Based on what I've read on the 7 pages of this thread, it sounds like the skin can be sort of gnarly (i.e. hair on it) - will it be possible to leave the skin on and eat it after it's been cooked? I realize it will need to be taken off for the bacon/pancetta curing. Is getting a belly with the skin on going to be more trouble than it's worth? Also, is there a consensus on the quality of the belly at a local butcher vs. a belly from a farm? There seems to be a pretty wide price difference - ~$1.50/lb vs. ~$6/lb; I can't decide if it's worth it to splurge for the farm raised pork.

    Regarding slicers, I received this guy (http://www.amazon.com/Chefs-Choice-632-International-VariTilt/dp/B000065ENH) as a wedding present and I've been very happy with it. I've used it to slice through sandwich meat I've bought in bulk, crusty bread, and even partially frozen ribeye to make cheesesteaks with. The one complaint I have is that the blade is not covered on the back end so the meat has a tendency to get caught on the blade and spin around a little. It's somewhat of an inconvenience, but the ones with the covered blade seem to be much more expensive.
  • Post #210 - June 18th, 2009, 2:35 pm
    Post #210 - June 18th, 2009, 2:35 pm Post #210 - June 18th, 2009, 2:35 pm
    I pay $4-5/lb. for pork belly and to me the first reason why is perfectly evident in this thread, if you look at the pictures of the two different kinds.

    The second reason is said more eloquently than I could starting at about 14 minutes in.

    But it's no harder to make two bellies than one, so why not do them side by side and judge for yourself?

    You will have to trim the skin off sometime. Not to plug another video of mine, but you can see Brian Huston of The Publican demonstrating the technique quite well in this one at, again, about 14 minutes in.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.

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