Slow-cooked pork jowl with spinach, sesame and poached oysters

Slow-cooked pork jowl with spinach, sesame and poached oysters

Stuart Scott

The pork jowl is a rich, gelatinous and fatty cut. Good cooking is not about luxury or expensive ingredients – it is about taking a cut like this and turning it into something magic. A ‘silk purse from a sow’s ear’ as the saying goes. We are helped in this endeavour with something from the sea: the oyster’s iodine richness, which cuts through the fatty porcine flavour.



  1. Begin this recipe one day in advance. Trim any visible glands from 10 meaty free-range pork jowls. Roughly square the jowls off by cutting away any loose flaps. Rinse and pat dry. To make the brine, mix together 600 grams table salt, 300 grams brown sugar and 5 litres water until the salt and sugar dissolve. Soak the jowls in the brine and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Wash 6 bunches English spinach and pick the stems from the leaves. Strain and spin in a salad spinner, then refrigerate half of the leaves until required.
  3. Blanch the remaining leaves in lightly salted boiling water then refresh in iced water. Strain and pat dry. Roughly chop, then add to a high-speed blender with 6 Ortiz anchovies and 1 tablespoon of anchovy brine. Blend to a purée. Pour into a Pacojet beaker. Freeze until solid.
  4. Remove the jowls from the brine and rinse lightly under running water to remove the excess brine. Pat dry. Seal the jowls in separate sous-vide bags with a slice of garlic clove per bag and compress with moderate pressure. Cook in a combi steam oven or water bath at 64°C for 12 hours. Remove from the oven or water bath and chill the jowls quickly in a blast chiller or an ice bath, then refrigerate until required.
  5. Remove the jowls from the bags and start trimming them. Inside the middle of the jowl is a meaty muscular centre but the meat is surrounded by fat, connective tissue, glands and skin. The easiest way to locate the meaty centre is to square the jowl up a bit and look at your slices as you go. As you reach the centre, you will find the main muscle – it should be roughly 10 × 10 × 2 centimetres. Trim the skin side off along with the majority of the fat cap. Leave an even coating of 3 millimetres of fat on the jowl; this fat will later be rendered and crisped before serving. Trim the bone side of the jowl of any glands, connective tissue and excess fat. You should get at least one neat portion from each jowl. Seal the trimmed jowls in separate sous-vide bags and compress with moderate pressure. Refrigerate until required.
  6. Churn the frozen spinach mixture in the Pacojet twice to achieve a very fine mousse. For every 100 grams of spinach mousse, whisk in 20 grams Malto (Texturas). Line dehydrator trays with plastic wrap. Spread the spinach mousse on the dehydrator trays and dry in a food dehydrator for 3 to 4 hours, or until dried and crisp and you have spinach ‘paper’.
  7. Line a tray with a kitchen towel. Shuck 10 jumbo-sized St Helens Pacific oysters, reserving the liquid. Gently rinse any sand and shell shards and keep the oysters on the cloth-lined tray in the refrigerator until serving.
  8. Strain the oyster liquid through muslin and bring to the boil in a small saucepan. Reduce to 100 millilitres then reduce the heat to low. Using a whisk, mix in 200 grams cold diced butter piece by piece to form a thick emulsion. Season to taste with Murray River pink salt and freshly ground white pepper and finish off with a squeeze of lemon juice. Be careful not to split the emulsion. Keep warm.
  9. Reheat the jowls in a water bath at 60°C for 15 minutes. Remove from the bags and let the jowls dry slightly, then sear, skin side down, in a frying pan under light pressure. Let the fat render slowly and the jowl caramelise to an even brown colour. Let rest lightly before slicing and serving, but keep warm.
  10. Finely dice 2 shallots and 2 garlic cloves. Sweat the shallots and garlic in 1 tablespoon butter until softened. Increase the temperature a little, add a splash of olive oil and the spinach leaves and wilt them briefly, tossing them in the shallot dressing, being careful not to cook the spinach too much.
  11. Lightly toast 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds in a dry frying pan.
  12. Gently poach the oysters for 30 seconds in lightly salted boiling water – this will firm them up. Lift them out with a slotted spoon and add to the oyster emulsion, stirring them gently to coat with the sauce.
  13. To serve, drain any liquid from the cooked spinach and divide among ten serving plates. Place an oyster on each plate and spoon over a little of the oyster emulsion. Arrange the pork jowls on the plates. Finish with a piece of spinach paper and a sprinkle of the toasted sesame seeds.
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