Pork temple meat is meat that comes from the head (temple) or cheek of a pig, and it’s the meat of choice for authentic jambalaya. It can also be used in several other ways.
Pork Temple is Better Than You Think
The meat comes from the top of the pig’s head down to its jowl area. Indeed, any part of that area can qualify as “temple” meat, or head meat, and it’s much tastier than it might sound. The pork cheek has a lot of protein and iron. It’s tasty and tender, especially if it’s cooked right.
It’s often sold in large chunks, but you can find it butchered in other ways as well.
If you’re making jambalaya or any other dish that would instantly improve with some pork in it, this meat is one type to consider. While many cooks put pork temple in jambalaya, you can use it in other dishes as well. This includes cooking it with gravy and rice, baking it with different types of fruit, or adding it to soups and stews. For most recipes that call for pork chops, temple meat is an adequate substitute. (We can also fill you on some great substitutes for pork belly or salt pork.)
In recent years, food experts have confirmed that pork is leaner than we originally thought. This means that when you’re making appetizers, snacks, or even complete meals, pork cuts such as temple meat are a great option.
Is Pork Temple the Same as Pork Cutlets?
Pork cutlets used to refer to something different than it does today. Nowadays, “cutlet” has come to symbolize any piece of meat that is pounded down so it’s easier to cook. In fact, today’s cutlets aren’t always even made out of pork! For this reason, cutlets and temple meat aren’t usually the same. For one thing, temple meat isn’t usually pounded down into shapes like cutlets. That being said, you can use temple meat in much the same way that you use cutlets in many of your recipes.
In the South, people often refer to pork temple as “jambalaya pork” because it’s a popular dish down there and that’s what many cooks use.
But be aware: In some parts of the country, butchers are unfamiliar with the term “temple” meat. They’ll usually know what you mean if you call it cheek or jowl meat.
The meat is much healthier than many people believe and tastes great to boot.