Pork Cheeks: Pig Jowls from BLT Steak

Fork-tender, smoked pork jowls from BLT steak.
Fork-tender, smoked pork jowls from BLT steak.
Erica O'Neil

Despite what the supermarket aisle may lead you to believe, there's more to an animal than neatly wrapped styrofoam trays of meat. From tongue to tail, offal (pronounced awful) encompasses all those taboo edibles that don't make the cut at your local grocer. Just Offal is here to explore these oft-neglected byproducts of butchering, featuring different offal meals from establishments across the valley.

This week: Smoked Pork Cheeks from BLT Steak.

The Ick Factor: Eating the face off your dinner may seem be a bit too Hannibal Lecter-like for some diners. This is particularly so considering the fact that some folks would prefer to think of their meat as chop and flank in form rather than coming straight from the fleshy cheek of the beast, which is a shame since cheeks are a cheap, tender, and flavor-packed cut of meat.

(bite into all the juicy details after the jump)

A hefty serving of pork cheeks, ready to be cooked.
A hefty serving of pork cheeks, ready to be cooked.
Flickr- JGU711

The Offal Choice: The swanky BLT Steak offered up a drool-worthy special of apple wood-smoked Berkshire pork cheeks, served atop a sweet pea puree and topped with pickled onions, capers and a Cabernet vinaigrette.

Tastes Just Like: Tender, flaky pork atop a bed of magic. Pork cheeks aren't exactly a common cut on menus, which is a shame since the happen to be a carnivorous delight. Pork cheeks are a super flavorful cut of meat that tastes just like the pork you know and love, and if it's been properly stewed it flakes into a fork-tender mass of silken meat. There also isn't anything funky or otherwise offal about this cut, making it the perfect introduction for an offal meat newbie.

You Know It's Cooked Improperly When: The cheeks are tough to gnaw through. Pigs spend all day chewing, so it follows that pork cheeks are a tougher cut of meat, and need a long and low stew to make them tender. So bust out your pressure cooker, crock pot, or good old-fashioned stock pot.

Always been a DIY-er? Hit up the meat market and procure yourself some cheek meat. Once you have this cut, we encourage you to try the following recipe: Holy Sh*t Pork Cheeks!

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