What Is Pork Jowl And The Easiest Way To Make It Tender

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The pork jowl is not a common pork cut but it is available when requested from your butcher. If you do, it's a pork cut that you can use in many pork recipes. It's especially delicious in recipes that require the pork to be simmered long and slow because it's actually a meaty cut! 

What is pork jowl? 

The pork jowl is part of the pork head or the maskara or pig face. Specifically, the jowl is actually just the pig cheek. Some include the skin which includes the meat around that area, too. It's a great substitute for pork belly because it too has a nice layering of meat and fat. It's usually an inexpensive and affordable pork cut

If you do get this cut, the first thing that many want to know is how to cook it. For those who love the crunch from cartilage might want to buy the entire pork maskara and not just the jowl, so the pig ears are also included. For those who love the meatiness of the cheeks, you can slice these up into cubes and stew them. 

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In some parts of the world, the pork jowl is made into bacon as it is done in the United States or, if you're in Italy, made into guanciale, the original pork cut that is used in the highly-debated origin story of the pasta carbonara

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How to Cook Pork Jowl or Pork Maskara

Two of the most popular ways of using the pork jowl or the entire maskara is in either the sizzling sisig or the dinakdakan. For both recipes, the pork is commonly simmered until tender and then grilled or just simply grilled for those who like the crunch of cartilage. 

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If stewing, braising, or simmering in a broth, simply follow the recipe which will indicate how best to tenderize the pork jowl. If you want to make sure that the meat of the pork jowl is tender before grilling or frying, you'll need to tenderize it. Here's how to make pork jowl tender: 

  1. 1 Bring a pot full of water to a boil. Add salt and ground pepper. Add the pig jowl or the maskara if using.
  2. 2 Lower heat Low and simmer for about 60 minutes or until the meat is fork-tender. Strain from the water and set aside. 
  3. 3 Prepare meat as indicated in the recipe. 

You can speed it up by using an instant pot, multicooker, pressure cooker, or slow cooker. You can use these now tender pork pieces in your sisig or the dinakdakan recipe!

Try Out These Pork Jowl Recipes:

1 Pork Sisig Recipe

pork sisig in a white bowl
Photo by Majoy Siason
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Feel free to use the entire maskara or just the pork cheeks if you love your pork sisig extra meaty. If there's any leftover, you can stuff it into empanadas and make sisig empanadas for merienda

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3 Dinakdakan Recipes

dinakdakan in a pan
Photo by Majoy Siason

This Ilocano dish is a unique pork dish, and it too uses the pork maskara. It's actually a close recipe relative to the pork sisig but with a big difference. This dinakdakan recipe also uses the pig brain to give the dish a creamy consistency. If you can't source the brain, try using mayonnaise as an easy substitute as you can see from the tofu dinakdakan recipe. (This recipe might be the reason why some prefer their sisig creamy!) 

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See Also

3 Spanish Pork Cheeks With Sauce Recipe 

spanish pork cheeks with sauce in a ceramic pot
Photo by David Hanson | Food preparation and Styling by Angelo Comsti

Also known as Carrilada De Cerdo Iberico En Salsa, this is a great example of how the pork jowl can be made into a dish that's super delicious. This stew allows the meat to become succulent, tender, and super tasty. 

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Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!

Got your own version of the classic dishes? Pa-share naman! Get your recipe published on Yummy.ph by submitting your recipe here.


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