This month we introduce a few new ingredients to our menu, and the one I am perhaps most excited about is the humble pork cheek.
Once regarded as nothing more than another ‘bit of offal’, we are now seeing them appearing more and more on the home cooks shopping list. Why? Well, they could perhaps be the best braising cut of all.
The idea of braising or stewing comes from the necessity to cook certain cuts of meat ‘low and slow’. Not only does this tenderise, but releases the deep, rich flavours that only a well-used muscle can provide!
A pork cheek in particular has vast amounts of collagen & intra-muscular fat. This means that the natural fats running within the meat nourish it throughout long cooking. As a result, you will have beautiful nuggets of perfectly moist meat after cooking.
This month, we will be utilising the cheeks in a take on the traditional croquetta recipe, using a thick Béchamel sauce (white sauce) combined with the slow cooked meat. Rolled, bread crumbed and deep fried, we then pair it with one of our signature condiments, Smoked Tomato Jam, for a delicious canape to kick off our menu.
One of my favourite ways to cook them is to marinade in red wine overnight, and then use in a traditional Bourginon recipe. I have included the recipe below for you to try!
Pork Cheek Bourginon
serves 4 (generously!)
3 tsp lard (or sunflower oil)
600g pork cheeks cut into large chunks (maybe each cheek in half)
100g smoked streaky bacon, sliced
350g shallot (finely chopped)
250g chestnut mushroom (about 20)
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 bouquet garni
1 tbsp tomato purée
750ml bottle red wine
- The night before, place your cheeks into a bowl and pour the red wine on top. Cover and leave overnight in the fridge. This will add great flavour, but is not absolutely essential!
- First season the cheeks and fry in the lard, using a heavy bottom pan, until golden brown. Then place into a casserole dish.
- Next add the streaky bacon, shallot, garlic, mushrooms and bouquet garni. Sweat over a medium heat until a light colour is achieved. Then add the tomato puree and cook out for a minute or so.
- Then add the pork and any juices back to the pan, and combine. Then pour all of this back into your casserole dish.
- Heat your frying pan back up on a high heat and add the red wine used to marinade the pigs cheeks. Stir all around the bottom of the pan to release all the caramelised morsels on the bottom of the pan. Pour this over the contents of the casserole dish. Add around 100ml of water, until the meat bobs up slightly.
- Cover the dish and cook for 3 hours at 150°c. Then remove from the oven.
- If the sauce still looks watery, remove the meat and boil the sauce rapidly until it thickens. Add the meat back into the pot and leave to cool for around 10 minutes before serving.
- This would be great with a traditional mashed potato, or alternatively, a celeriac mash.