A very special episode

Petey's plate

The finished dish.

Originally published in the Herald Sun 10/19/2011

October 11, 1:15PM-Okay, here’s the deal. You guys are on a real-time journey with me. Right now, in my oven, is the object and subject of this column. Last night I took a package of meat from the freezer that I wasn’t sure I would ever use. Hog jowls.
Ever heard of guanciale (gwon-choll-ay), a trendy Italian ingrediant? That’s hog jowls. Seen pork cheeks on Iron Chef? Hog Jowls.
It’s a traditional country food. The muscle is tough and fatty, with lots of collagen. Cooked correctly, it’s supposed to be a rich, unctuous meat, like ox tales, brisket, or NC Barbecue.
But yes, it does come from the face of the pig.
The meat I had looked like really thick, meaty slices of bacon, with a strip of skin on one side. They were smoked for flavor, but not cooked at all.
I decided I would slow cook them into carnitas (slow cooked spiced, shreddy pork) from the Mexican flavors I had in my pantry. That’s the other part of the challenge. I will be making this dish with only items that are already in my house.
First I browned the meat in Old Blue. I seasoned the slices, trimmed off the skin and threw the scraps back. When the slices were crusty and brown, I pulled them and put sliced onions and halved garlic cloves into the fat. From there I made a very mock mole sauce for a braise
I put them in the oven covered at 275 degrees. That’s where they are right now.
More to come.
2:00PM-I just checked it. It’s been in about an hour and feels very tender. It went back in for thirty more minutes.
Experimenting here, folks.
More soon.
2:45PM– I took the meat from the braise. It was falling apart tender. I chopped it up, crisped it in the same pot, and then put in the cooked rice, chicken stock, some chopped green olives, and the cheese. When the mixture had cooled and firmed up a little, I folded in three stiffly beaten egg whites to lighten the filling.
5:00PM-I put together the burritos and set them in the fridge to chill, so they hold their shape better while cooking.
6:15 PM-I will wrap this up after we eat. But I have an update. Petey picked up some salad greens for dinner. It will be a nice fresh compliment to the substantial and hearty puerco pocket.
I’ll let y’all know how it all turned out soon.
7:30PM-I succumbed to temptation and fried them chimi-style, drizzled a little sauce on them sprinkled a little grated colby-jack, and put them under a low broiler. I will photograph the results-good or bad.
8:45PM-Dinner’s over. Two words-O.M.G.
Thanks for your time.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Fresh out of the oven from the cheese melting portion of the program.

My Pantry Very, Very Mock Mole for Hog Jowls
Your pantry and mole may differ greatly
3/4 cup La Victoria mild Green salsa (mole traditionally has tons of chiles, this sauce replaced fresh and/or dried chiles)
1 tablespoons Bitter Orange Adobo
2 packets Safron Sazon
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt 
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
juice and zest of two limes
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon Chinese five spice
2 teaspoons fennel seed
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup small pimento stuffed olives
1 tablespoon olive brine
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
tiny pinch of both cayenne and red pepper flakes
1 cup sherry
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
small yellow onion rough slice
5 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
After browning meat, remove and add onion and garlic. When the onion starts to soften, add all the ingredients up to the sherry. Lower heat and stir. When the mixture gets tight and caramelized, pour in sherry and scrape all the stuff stuck to the bottom. When the sherry has almost completely reduced, add chicken stock. Return meat to pot, cover and bake low and slow.

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