Pigsicles

My kids will sometimes come home from school and dance around the kitchen, begging for popsicles. But what gets Dad jumping is not the refreshing fruitiness of a popsicle, but rather the crackly porkiness of a pigsicle!

Pigsicles

What is a pigsicle? Well, before you gag and reflex-close this blog, it is not a sweet, frozen pork juice confection. I just gave it the name “pigsicle” because it was catchy and I may include it in the barfood menu for my restaurant one day. Rather, it is skewered fatty jowl meat seasoned and crisped up on a very hot grill. A grown-up treat of the very highest order, to be sure.

The “jowl” cut of pork is the one used in Italy to make the bacon-like product, guanciale, which should be a staple of everyone’s freezer. (If for no other reason than it’s central role in one of the world’s very best pastas, bucatini all’ amatriciana.) If you were unable to find jowl at your local butcher (or Japanese market, where I purchase it labeled as “pork toro”), you could do a similar preparation with slices of pork belly.

Once relegated to the darkest corners of the the grocery store deli case in the form of salt pork, pork belly has risen like a blazing phoenix in the culinary firmament. (I must add, in one of food’s greatest ironies, it never failed to amaze how those very people who would shudder at words like “lard,”fatback” or “salt pork” would happily gobble down bacon each Saturday morning…) Even lard has been redeemed! It’s time we all pushed the quinoa aside and celebrated the swine! (Or put some pork in your quinoa, it will taste better!)

Here in Southern California, we’re experiencing Indian Summer — heat in the 90s in late October. I don’t like it. But when the universe gives you lemons, you make lemonade. I will be making lemonade — or perhaps limeade, the kind spiked with a bit of tequila. And I’ll uncover the grill for one more round of pigsicles. Here, should  you like to do the same, are your marching orders:

*   *   *

Pigsicles
serves 4 as an appetizer

1/2 lb. pork jowl (sometimes called “pork toro” or “pork neck”), or belly
bamboo skewers

rub:
1/2 tsp. fine salt
1/2 sugar
1/4 tsp. white pepper

sauce:
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. chicken broth
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. ketchup
1 tsp. rice wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. Chinese five spice
a dash Tabasco or other hot sauce

Slice the jowl into strips about 3 inches long and 1/2 inch thick. Thread onto 8-12 skewers, depending how many pieces you have.

Mix together rub ingredients. Sprinkle lightly over the skewered jowl strips.

In a small saucepan, mix together sauce ingredients. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, stir and cook for one minute. Remove from heat and place in a small bowl.

Heat your grill to high. Cook skewered pork for about 2 minutes per side, until crispy and beginning to brown. Remove from heat and serve with sauce.

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