A recent raid on our freezer turned up a 1Kg pack of pig cheeks that we had completely forgotten about. Well time to correct this omission immediately! I really think that pig cheeks are an overlooked resource so often just turned into pork mince. They are also often difficult to get hold of, even from small artisan butchers – simply as each pig only has two! Wanting to do something a little different with them we found an inspiring recipe from Javier De La Hormaza, the owner of Basco Fine Foods.
We were not going to use black Iberian pigs known as Cerdo Ibérico, which I am sure are stunning, but we did follow a very similar recipe modified slightly for cooking on the Big Green Egg. The initial prep was quite conventional and done indoors on the hob this time before taking it all outside to cook over charcoal.
The pork cheeks which were quite small were rolled in seasoned flour and then browned in small batches in hot oil before being set aside.
After adding a little more olive oil to the same pan the finely chopped shallots (or onion) were cooked over a medium heat. As they began to soften the finely chopped carrots, and a little later the finely chopped celery, were added and fried until they took on some colour. This takes around 10 minutes.
This was added to the casserole that we would be using on the BGE together with the pork cheeks, a tie of thyme and the bay leaf. To this we added a little seasoning of salt and pepper. The sherry was added and then the whole casserole was cooked on a high heat for 2 minutes until the sherry had reduced slightly and the alcohol boils off. The beef stock was then added and brought back to the boil. At this point it was ready to transfer to the Big Green Egg.
The EGG had been set up for indirect cooking at between 120-130C. Halfway through cooking there was still quite a lot of liquid but there was clearly no need to panic! By the time the pork cheeks were really tender the extra liquid had been absorbed leaving a lovely rich silky sauce.
The pork cheeks for this cook were really quite small and that allowed us to have 8 portions with 2 cheeks in each portion.
The first time we had the dish we were in the garden with some lovely summer sun and we teamed the pork cheeks with sautéed potatoes, some of our charred fennel and tomato, and French beans from the garden as in the lead photo. The next time we had some the weather was back to a more usual British summer and we were eating indoors and this time we swapped out the fennel for some tender stem broccoli – each time the dish was a real joy!
I do hope you give it a try………….
……….. I don’t think you will be disappointed!
Footnote: Although we have not yet tried it we are going to try this recipe using wild boar casseroling meat. This usually comes from the shoulder and responds well to slow cooking and would probably be a good substitute for pork cheeks ………… watch this space!
From – https://www.bascofinefoods.com/spanish-recipes/sherry-braised-pork-cheeks-with-roasted-garlic-mashed-potatoes/
Pork Cheeks slowly braised in sherry
Pork cheeks braised in stock and sherry until truly unctuous
- 1kg trimmed pork cheeks
- 3 tbsp seasoned flour
- 5tbsp olive oil
- 4 banana shallots (or 1 onion) finely chopped
- I large carrot finely chopped into cubes
- 2 sticks of celery finely chopped into cubes
- 4 sprigs of thyme tied together
- 1 Bay leaf
- Salt and pepper
- 300ml amontillado sherry (ideally made from 100% Pedro Ximenez grapes)
- 500ml beef stock (2 stock pots)
- Step 1 Roll the pork cheeks in seasoned flour and then brown in small batches in hot oil before setting aside.
- Step 2 Add a little more olive oil to the pan and add the finely chopped shallots and cook over a medium heat. As they began to soften add the finely chopped carrots and a little latter the finely chopped celery. Cook until they take on some colour. This takes around 10 minutes.
- Step 3 Add this soffrito and the cheeks too the casserole dish you will be using on the BGE. Add the tie of thyme and the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper.
- Step 4 Add the sherry cook on a high heat for 2 minutes until the sherry had reduced slightly and the alcohol boils off. Add the beef stock and bring back to the boil. At this point you are ready to transfer to the Big Green Egg. The BGE should be set to indirect cooking at between 120-130C.
- Step 5 Cook until the cheeks are meltingly soft and the sauce is silky (add more water if required)
- Step 6 Serve 2 pork cheeks per person (assuming 16 in 1Kg)