I don’t often see pig’s cheeks in the butchers, so when I did I had to buy them. I looked through our books for a recipe I fancied cooking but when I couldn’t find one I turned to the internet and found this one. It’s by Nigel Slater, although marinading the cheeks in wine beforehand is a twist I’ve added, that inspiration coming from a Tom Kerridge recipe.
Interestingly, for me at least, Nigel says that this recipe was inspired after a trip to San Sebastian. I’ll be stopping there with Lisa as we head south in the not too distant future. Hopefully I’ll find similar inspiration in the many pintxo bars.
This recipe serves 2
half a bottle of red wine
4 pig’s cheeks
2 tbsp olive oil
2 small carrots sliced thickly
1 onion chopped
half red onion chopped
1 stick of celery chopped
3 cloves of garlic sliced
2 tbsp flour
2 sprigs of thyme
a short piece of orange peel
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp of sugar or fruit jelly (optional)
Make sure you remove as much of the fat and sinew from the pig’s cheeks as you can.
The night before you want to cook this, put the pig’s cheeks in a bowl and pour over the wine. Cover and leave in the fridge until needed.
Set the oven at 160C/140C fan/gas mark 3.
Warm the oil in a casserole dish 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 salt and black pepper, cook for a minute or two then add the thyme, bay leaves and the wine. Bring to the boil, cover, then bake for 2½ to 3 hours until tender.
Check occasionally to make sure the liquid hasn’t reduced too much. It’s suggested to taste after one hour and add the sugar or jelly if needed. I found it tasted delicious as it was.
Nigel suggests serving with mash and I think that’s definitely the way to go, along with some buttered greens on the side.