Pork jowl (alternately called jowl bacon or, especially in the Southern United States, hog jowl) is cured and smoked cheeks of pork. Hog jowl is a staple of soul food, but is also used outside the United States, for example in the Italian dish guanciale.
Jowl bacon can be fried and eaten as a main course, similar to streaky bacon, such as in a traditional full English breakfast. Often, it is used as a seasoning for beans, black-eyed peas or with cooked with leafy green vegetables such as collard greens or turnip greens in a traditional Southeastern meal. A Southern US tradition of eating black-eyed peas and greens with either pork jowls or fatback on New Year's Day to ensure prosperity throughout the new year goes back hundreds of years.
Jowl meat may also be chopped and used as a garnish, similar to bacon bits, or served in sandwich form.
Because pork jowl is cured, like most other cuts of pork, it has been a traditional winter time food as it was able to be stored for long periods of time without refrigeration.
Like most cured pork products, pork jowls are high in nitrates and sodium, which give the potential for health risks, particularly for those with a family history of heart disease.
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