Pork cheek is an excellent piece of meat. It is not high in fat, but it is packed with collagen. Due to a low and slow preparation, the collagen breaks down, and gelatin remains. The result is a tender piece of meat that is just the right size for a small bun.
If we had to choose between pulled pork and smoked pork cheek, we would choose pork cheeks, always.
Pig cheeks are made for smoking. We set our Kamado Joe to 150°C (300F). Lower is fine, but do not exaggerate. Somewhere between 110 and 150°C (230 to 300F) is excellent. We like to use cherry wood with pork. It gives a mild smoke flavor and leaves a beautiful color.
We put 1 block directly between the glowing coals and the other we put just next to it. That way, you can be sure that you have enough smoke for the first hour.
This is what the pork cheeks look like after 2 hours of smoking. Delicious dark brown nuggets of meat. You would like to take a bite of it now, but they still need to soften.
That is why we put them in an aluminum tray with some pineapple sauce. The sauce is just sour enough to help break down the collagen to speed up the process. We will also use the pineapple sauce to top the sandwich.
After about 2 hours, check the pork cheek if they are soft enough. We don’t do that by checking the temperature. The core temperature is not so important in this case.
We stick our probe through the foil and the pig cheek. If it comes out without resistance, the cheeks are soft enough, and the aluminum tray can be removed from the grill.
Keep the pork cheeks packed while you grill the slices of pineapple and the rolls. For that, you remove the plate setter from the kamado. The slices of pineapple take a little longer to grill, so they are the first to go on.
This is how soft the cheeks are when you unpack them. All the collagen is converted into gelatin, and the meat is deliciously sticky. You will also see a beautiful pink smoke ring. You would like to eat them now.
This is the sandwich we are going to make. 1 pork cheek is a perfect size for 1 roll. This can’t be a coincidence?
- 500 grams of pork cheeks
- pepper and salt
- 4 soft rolls
- jalapeno pepper
- 4 slices of pineapple
- soy sauce
- Spicy pineapple sauce
- Prepare a barbecue with 2 zones and a core temperature of 110 to 150°C (230 to 300F). The lower, the better.
- Sprinkle the pork cheeks with some salt and pepper and place them above the indirect zone of the barbecue. Leave them like this for the first 2 hours.
- After 2 hours, the pork cheeks have seen enough smoke, and you put them in an aluminum tray. Add 4 large tablespoons of pineapple sauce. Close the tray with a sheet of aluminum foil and put it back in the grill and close the lid.
- After 2 hours, pierce the foil and the pork cheek with a skewer or your probe to see how much resistance there is. If the probe goes in and out without a problem, the meat is soft enough. Otherwise, close the lid and wait another hour.
- Keep the pork cheek wrapped while you rub the slices of pineapple with a little soy sauce. Then grill them on both sides above the hot side until grill stripes are formed. Then cut the sandwiches and also toast them.
- Then you can pull the pork cheeks apart and make the sandwiches. Start with a leaf of lettuce, then a slice of pineapple, a pulled pork cheek, a generous scoop of spicy pineapple sauce, and then the crown of the roll.