Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Cook This: Braised Pork Cheek in Red Wine

You may have noticed, but in my recent restaurant exploits, both in London and in New York, I have discovered how yummy cheeks are.  So I was delighted when I came home Friday night, and K told me that he'd picked up some pig cheek from the butcher.

Admist an afternoon/evening of rugby (the 6 Nations started this weekend - see one of the reasons that girls should watch rugby here), I made some guacamole for lunch and took some care to give these cheeks the attention that they deserved.  Slow cooking is key with cheeks, and you don't want to rush it.

(I was so excited that I didn't pay much attention to presentation -
enjoyed with home brewed IPA)

Recipe: Braised Pork Cheek in Red Wine (for 2)
A bit of olive or other oil
Pig's cheeks (I used 6 pieces around 400g)
1 large carrot, chopped
1 parsnip, chopped
2 shallots, roughly chopped (I ended up using 1 shallot and half a red onion I had left from the guacamole)
2 cloves of garlic
A bunch of thyme
Bit of rosemary
3 bay leaves
2 tbsp or so of fruit jelly (I recommend quince)
1 green apple, diced (I used Granny Smith)
Squirt of honey
1 bottle of bold, rich red wine
Sprinkle of flour
Salt and pepper for seasoning

1. Marinate the cheeks in red wine for a few hours.  This step probably isn't essential, but will make the cheeks more tender.

2. Preheat the oven to 160C/320F. 

3. Heat oil in a pan (use a dutch oven or other stove-friendly roasting dish if you have one), season the cheeks with salt and pepper, then brown the cheeks for a minute or two. Remove from the pan.

3. Saute the carrot, parsnip, garlic and shallot on a low heat until soft.

4. Tuck the cheeks back into the pan amongst the veg.  Sprinkle with flour.  Season with thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, salt and pepper.

5. Add a tablespoon of fruit jelly and enough red wine so that the cheeks will be mostly submerged once in the oven.  Stir and bring to a boil.

6. If you're using a pan that cannot go straight in the oven, transfer everything to a glass dish.  Cover and stick in the oven for 2-2 1/2 hours.

7. After an hour or so, taste to check the seasoning and re-season as necessary.  Add one further tablespoon of fruit jelly and one small green apple (At the last minute, I decided to add mushrooms instead of apple, as I had quite a hungry K to feed - but we both decided that apple would taste better). Cook for the remaining time or until the cheeks are tender enough to come apart without much effort (i.e. with just a fork or nearly).

I recommend serving with creamy mash and green veg. 

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