Monday, January 28, 2013

Pork Cheeks - Quite cheeky

The other day, Mr T and I watched a re-run of Come Dine with Me Ireland - it was a Dublin episode and the host of the night decided to cook pork cheeks. It looked horrendous to be honest as he kept the skin on and didn't burn off the hair - it really looked revolting. But the guests said that under all the fatty parts, some moist and succulent meat was to be found. Mr T was intrigued and said, he would like to try it.

So, off I went to the English Market and Tom Durcan had a big pigs head on display, so I thought the chances were quite good that he also had pork cheeks - and I was right. Remembering how awful the meat looked on telly, I asked him to remove the skin which he did expertly (one reason, I buy most of my meat from a craft butcher).

Since pork and apples are a classic combination, I decided to braise the meat in dry cider. Even after removing the skin, a thick layer of fat was hiding the leaner meat. I left the fat layer on as it gives the meat its flavour but if I would cook it again, would cut the fat off before serving. I consider this dish a proper man's dish. The recipe below serves 2 people.

You will need:
Pork Cheeks on bed of mash & spinach

  • 2 large pork cheeks, skin removed
  • Knob of butter
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 stick celery, sliced
  • 1 pint of dry cider
  • 2 bay leaves

Preheat the oven to 160C

Heat the butter and olive oil in a pan and seal and brown the meat from all sides. Transfer the meat to an ovenproof dish. In the remaining oil, add the sliced onion and sauté until translucent. Add the carrots and celery and stir-fry for about 5 minutes. 

Add the vegetables to the meat and pour over the pint of cider. Cover the dish and place in the oven. Leave in the oven for about 2 hours, basting the meat from time to time. 

Remove the meat from the dish and keep warm. Strain the liquid into a clean saucepan and skim of the layer of fat. Bring to a rapid boil and reduce by half. The result should be a rich golden brown colour. Season to taste. 

I served the cheeks with mashed potatoes and steamed spinach. 

Bon Appetit

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