Before Christmas I was in my favourite place to buy meat, Casey Fields Farm Shop and eyed a pack of Pork Cheeks which quickly found their way into the basket. The lady in front starting to ask what I would do with them and before you know it, she had the other packet in hers, I love that place!! I was saving them for a rainy day, and having had far two many of them recently decided to put something tasty together. In 2007 we were flooded, I mean the whole ground floor and it took 6 months to rebuild the place so have a lot of sympathy for those suffering at the moment, we’ve been through it too.
You will see these beauties only cost £2.49 and 4 of them are plenty for 2 people as they are very rich and umptious, served with a variety of sides such as Mash, Cabbage, or maybe Freekeh or Mograbieh for a Middle Eastern touch. You will need the following ingredients to knock up this beautiful winter warmer. The Pork Cheeks are going to braise long and slow, in fact 4 1/2 hours in a deep and mouth watering stock, despite the Chilli, it’s not a hot dish at all.
- 1 pack Pork Cheeks (or 2 per person)
- 4 Cloves Garlic
- 2 Sticks Celery
- 1 Red Onion
- 2 Carrots
- 3 Star Anise
- 9 Juniper berries (or maybe 10 if you prefer even numbers!) lightly crushed by hand
- 1 Tsp dried Thyme
- 1 Tbsp Coriander Seeds
- 1 Tsp Yellow Mustard Seeds
- 1 Black Cardamom pod
- 1/2 Tsp Aleppo Chilli flakes
- 1/2 Tsp Chipotle Chilli flakes
- 1/2 Tsp dried Sage
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 2 Sprigs fresh Rosemary
- 1 Large Glass Red Wine (I used Merlot)
- 1 Tsp Aged Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 Tbsp Tomato paste
- 1 Tin chopped Tomatoes
- 1/4 Litre Beef stock
- 1 Bunch Coriander
- White Pepper (I used Muntok from Steenbergs) to taste
- Maldon Sea Salt to taste
Firstly chop the Onion and cook for 10 – 15 minutes in 50/50 butter and Oil to soften, then add chopped Celery and Carrot and the Mustard Seeds and continue for another 10 – 15 minutes. Then, add all the spices and Tomato paste and ‘cook out’ for another 5 minutes.
Then add the glass of red wine and cook reducing by about 1/3. You braising liquid will look something like the picture above. After about 15 minutes, add the chopped Tomatoes and Beef Stock and cook for another 15 or so minutes, you should have some heady aroma’s in the kitchen by now. Set you oven to 130 deg (fan) 150 deg (convection), the cheeks are going to cook long and slow, about 4 1/2 hours.
While you are reducing the braising liquid, coat the Pork Cheeks in seasoned flour and fry in butter and oil until brown, about 3 minutes each side and then ‘nestle them in the braising liquid after chopping up the whole bunch of coriander and adding first.
The picture above should give you an idea of what you are aiming for. To go with the Pork Cheeks I prepared buttery Mash Potato, I prefer to cook the potatoes in their skins and gently peel with the back of a knife after about 35 minutes In the boiling water. Passing the potatoes through a Ricer and adding a decent load of butter produces fantastic results. I also added, in this case about 1 TSP of English Mustard which ‘lifts’ the Potato and enhances the Pork. Potato NEEDS Salt, so season to taste.
I also braised some Cabbage in Butter and White Wine, and at the end seasoned with some Anardana (Ground Pomegranate Seeds), it worked surprisingly well.
As you can see from the close-up, the Pork is just melt in the mouth tender, the mash was soft and buttery and the Cabbage added a different texture to the meal. This is worth the effort and during these wet and miserable days, gave us some pleasure in the food department. Waitrose sometimes stock Pork Cheeks if you don’t have a butcher nearby, herbs & spices from Steenbergs and Ottolenghi, please try this one as you won’t be disappointed.
Till next time…