Jowl is such a great cut. It comes from around the jaw of the pig and can be smoked in the same way as bacon, but because it's not a common cut that people buy, it's actually cheaper than bacon. We use it interchangeably with bacon, but I love making risotto so I thought I'd share my recipe! I love risotto because the only ingredients you NEED are rice and water, you can add just about any meat or vegetables you have laying around and it'll still taste amazing. Great for fellow CSA lovers.
JOWL BACON RISOTTO
Serves 4 as a main dish
3 slices of smoked jowl
3 cups chicken stock (or any kind of stock or water)
1 28-oz can whole tomatoes with juices
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup Arborio rice (another short rice)
1/2 cup dry red wine (or white or champagne)
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
1 bunch of spinach - about 3/4 pound
salt and pepper to taste
1. Put the tomatoes and stock together in a medium sized sauce pan on low. You just want to warm it, not boil.
2. In a medium to large size pan fry the jowls at medium heat, the same way you would for bacon. Once it's crispy remove from the pan, but leave the grease in the pan.
3. If there's not enough grease you can add cooking fat of your choice (I've never needed to add more). You're stove should already be on medium. Put the onions in the grease and cook just slightly so they're translucent. Add the rice and cook with the onions for 1-2 minutes stirring constantly until lightly toasted. Add the wine - pour it slowly because it may spit when added to the grease.
4. Cook the mixture until the wine is absorbed into the rice, 1-2 minutes. Now you will add the tomato/stock mix 1 cup at a time to the rice. I set my timer for 25 minutes. Then I'll use a 1 cup measuring cup and scoop up the tomato/stock and add (slowly again because it might spit) it to the rice. Stir it constantly between each cup and let it absorb into the rice before adding another scoop. After 25 minutes the risotto should be cooked. If you run out of stock before 25 minutes and the rice isn't done yet, just add a little warm water in the same way.
5. Remove from heat. Chop the jowls and add to the rice. Add the parmesan, spinach and salt and pepper to taste.
Buying a whole chicken is the most economical choice. Whole chickens will almost always be cheaper to buy than chicken breast, plus all parts of a chicken are great, not just the breast. Breaking down a chicken is really easy and will save you money in the end. It will also open up a lot of possibilities for where to buy chicken, since most small scale producers can't afford to pay the processing fees of breaking down chickens at the butcher. Here's a great video on how to break down a chicken:
Once a chicken is broken down it will be a lot easier to cook because the pieces will cook more evenly. Also you can cook some pieces now and save some for later in the fridge or freezer, which is a great option for small families that might not eat a whole chicken in one meal.