Slow-braised pig cheeks
- March 2018
- Serves 4-6
- Hands-on time 45 min, oven time 3 hours
”This is a slow, rich stew for a long lunch. The good news is, once it’s in the oven, it requires little work – so you can put your feet up.” – Steffi Knowles-Dellner
- 24.3g (6g saturated)
- 28.2g (19.8g sugars)
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- 1 tsp paprika
- About 1kg trimmed pig cheeks (10-12), cut in half if very thick (from Waitrose, Donald Russell, Abel and Cole and good butchers)
- 3 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 3 celery sticks, roughly chopped
- 2 carrots, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- 200ml red wine
- 500ml beef stock
- 1 sprig each fresh thyme, rosemary and parsley
- 1 small bunch fresh sage, roughly chopped, plus 1 sprig reserved
- 2 bay leaves
- 75g shelled walnut halves
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp soft brown sugar
- 3 pears, cut into quarters
You’ll also need…
- Large flameproof lidded casserole
- Heat the oven to 160°C/140°C fan/gas 3. Mix the flour with the paprika and plenty of salt and pepper in a shallow bowl, then roll the pig cheeks in the mixture to coat.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in the casserole and fry the cheeks in batches until browned all over. Set aside, then add the remaining oil to the pan and add the onion. Cook gently, colouring as little as possible, for 5 minutes. Add the celery and carrots and fry for 5 minutes more, stirring often. Add the garlic and tomato purée and cook for a minute or two before returning the cheeks to the pan. Pour in the red wine and simmer for a few minutes, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Cover the pork and vegetables with the stock, then tie the thyme, rosemary, parsley, sage sprig and bay leaves together with string and add to the casserole. Cover with the lid and transfer to the oven. Cook for about 3 hours or until the pig cheeks are tender and come apart easily.
- Meanwhile, toss the walnuts in a bowl with a spoonful of water and the caster sugar. Tip onto a baking sheet and cook at the bottom of the oven for 10-15 minutes, stirring halfway through, until golden and caramelised.
- When the pork is almost ready, melt the butter in a large frying pan. Stir in the brown sugar and add the pears. Cook for about 5 minutes until golden and softened. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle the chopped sage leaves into the pan. Fry in the caramel butter briefly until crisp, then scatter over the pears.
- Remove the bunch of herbs from the casserole and sprinkle the pork with the walnuts. Serve with the sage pears, the potatoes (see below) and steamed green veg, or see Steffi’s recipe introduction.
If you can’t get hold of pig cheeks, you can use pork shoulder instead. If you have any leftovers, they will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Cook the pig cheeks. Cool, then refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze in a sealed container for up to 3 months. Defrost thoroughly and reheat gently until piping hot throughout.
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