Most bacon is made from the belly of the pig. This one is a little different, made from the jowl, or cheek. Its texture is delicate, its aroma almost floral. I enjoyed it so much it made me wonder why more smokehouses don't offer it. I rang up Steven Burger, the third generation to head up the eponymous smokehouse in Missouri, to get some insight.
“The jowl is a pretty fatty piece, and folks used to only want lean cuts of meat,” said Steven. His tastes run a little differently, however. “I think of it as something special. I’ll bring a bunch of jowl bacon over to my in-laws' for the holidays. It’s a treat.”
Maybe that's the story: the smokers are keeping it for themselves and mostly for special occasions. After all, there's a lot less jowl on a pig than there is belly. I agree with Steven: jowl bacon is something special. I'm not sure if my in-laws are ready for it, but my bacon loving friends sure are. And if you're up for a hard to find but delicious new way to eat bacon, you're in luck.
Jowl bacon slices come a bit smaller than belly bacon, and the fat is creamier, more delicate. It fries up more quickly, so make sure to watch it the first time you cook it.
Bacon maniacs—pick up our Bacon All-Stars Refrigerator Magnet.