Pig cheeks are a forgotten but extremely tasty cut of meat and as they are out of fashion they’re still relatively cheap too. A couple of weeks ago my other half bought a pack of them at out local supermarket, after I had been describing a menu with braised cheeks on in a restaurant I visited during a trip to Montreal a few years ago. I popped them in the freezer as I didn’t have the time to do them justice and cooking them they deserved, the cheeks respond best to a gentle braising.
With this easy recipe from Nigel Slater, the ingredients take less than 15 mins to prepare and the oven does the hard work.
Serves 4 – Gluten Free*
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 8 pig’s cheeks (the pillow shaped bit)
- 3 carrots, roughly chopped in to medium sized pieces
- 2 brown onions, peeled and roughly sliced
- 1 red onion, peeled and roughly sliced
- 2 sticks of celery, roughly chopped in to medium sized pieces
- 4 big fat cloves garlic, sliced thinly
- A generous bunch of fresh thyme
- a short piece of orange zest
- 3 bay leaves
- 350ml red wine (the bolder the better)
- 350ml vegetable stock (use a Gluten Free Stock for a gluten free recipe)
- 2 tbsp flour (use a Gluten Free flour for a gluten free recipe)
- 2 tbsp Apple sauce or fruit jelly
- Heat the oven at 160C
- Warm a thin film of oil in a heavy roasting tin over a moderate heat, then season the cheeks with salt and pepper and brown them lightly in the oil.
- Remove and set aside.
- Add the carrots, onions, celery, orange peel and garlic to the pan in which you browned the cheeks, letting them soften and colour very lightly.
- Return the cheeks to the pan, tucking them among the vegetables, scatter over the flour, season with more salt and black pepper and cook for a minute or two.
- Add the thyme, the bay leaves, wine and stock.
- Bring to the boil, cover loosely with moistened baking parchment.
- Bake for 2½ to 3 hours until tender. Checking occasionally to make sure the liquid isn’t reducing too far.
- After an hour or so, it might be prudent to taste and add up to two tbsp apple sauce or other fruit jelly to the gravy.
Serve with buttery mashed potatoes.
*Gluten Free – Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently