Americans are addicted to bacon in all its crispy glory, but those in the know are turning to pork jowl, a chic and trendy ingredient that has been a staple of the Deep South and Cajun pantries for the past century. Italians have long treasured this ingredient as an alternative to pancetta incorporating a cured version called guanciale into their pasta dishes.
Pork jowl is simply the fat, cheeky mound of flesh taken from each side of a pig’s head. In its smoked form, it is a common ingredient for seasoning many Southern dishes, but when sliced thin into bacon-type strips and peppered, it becomes a superior stand-in for bacon. Check your local butcher for pork jowl or these days you can find it in most supermarket refrigerated sections where bacon is sold. At least south of the Mason Dixon line.
In this recipe, pork jowl, when peppered and paired with fried green tomatoes, makes an especially tasty elevated version of a BLT sandwich. It’s an all-natural use of farm-to-table ingredients celebrating Southern culture and the importance of the whole hog as a food source.
Indulge. You deserve it.
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons hot sauce
- ½ cup Creole mustard
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Sea salt
- 16 strips peppered pork jowl bacon
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
- 1 cup peanut oil
- 2 large green tomatoes, sliced ½-inch-thick
- 4 large romaine lettuce leaves
- 8 slices white sandwich bread
- In a mixing bowl, add the mayonnaise, hot sauce and Creole mustard and combine. Add in the lemon juice, a pinch of sea salt and stir together and refrigerate.
- In a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, place each of the strips flat on the surface. Fry until browned on one side and turn over. Continue frying until all fat renders out and the pork jowl is crisp. Remove strips to a paper towel-lined plate and add more fresh-cracked black pepper.
- Add the flour to a shallow bowl and blend in the cayenne.
- In another bowl, whisk one egg with buttermilk and a dash of hot sauce and set aside.
- Blend the panko breadcrumbs with the Cajun seasoning in a shallow pan and set aside. In three different stations, line up the flour, egg mixture, and panko breadcrumbs.
- In a cast-iron skillet on medium heat add the peanut oil and bring to 375ºF. Coat each tomato slice in flour and shake off the excess. Submerge into the egg mixture and place in the seasoned panko breading. Pat firmly so the breadcrumbs stick to each side of the tomatoes and move to a wire rack. Gently add the breaded tomato slices to the hot oil making sure not to crowd the pan. Fry on 1 side until browned and turn once with a spatula and continue frying until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Move the fried tomatoes back to the wire rack and season with sea salt immediately.
- Slather each slice of the white bread with the mayo. On the bottom place a large romaine lettuce leaf. Cover the lettuce with 3 strips of the fried pork jowl bacon and place 2 fried green tomato slices on top. Serve open-face or close the sandwich with the top slice of bread. Serve with bread and butter pickles.
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