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C.C. Hogan

Tender Pig Cheeks braised with Pancetta

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Cheeky little recipe where Spain meets Italy.

I am not sure whether people think about eating pig's cheeks often, but they are a particularly tasty and, if gently braised for a couple of hours, are so tender that a fork is all you require.

This little offering spans half a continent, with Amontillado sherry from Spain and a good smoked Pancetta from Italy.  Like most of my recipes, it is easy, but it needs a little time. This feeds two people nicely.

  • 4 pigs cheeks
  • Plain flour
  • handful of chunky pancetta, er chunks.
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 200ml Amontillado sherry
  • 300ml strong beef stock
  • 1 tbs cumin seed
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Toss the whole pigs cheeks in flour and set aside.

In a large frying pan (I never use small pans for anything) gently fry the onions in a slurp of oil till soft and slightly brown - ten minutes or so.  Add the cumin seed and cook for a minute or two more.

Remove the onions and, if necessary, add a little more olive oil.  Fry the four cheeks till they are nicely brown all over.  You will see that they fatten up as they heat.

Add the pancetta and continue frying gently till that is nicely coloured.  Add the garlic and paprika and cook for a minute or two, stirring constantly. Return the onions to the pan and add the sherry.  Stir constantly till it bubbles and thickens, making sure that you scrape up all the bits that have stuck on the pan.

Add the strong stock and bring to a simmer.  Turn right down, cover and cook for two hours, turning the cheeks from time to time.

Tip:  if your rings are smaller than your pan, especially your simmer ring on an electric cooker, make sure the cheeks are in the middle of the pan. 

And that is it. I served this with thinly sliced courgettes fried with garlic and shard, but most things go!  Since it has lots of lovely sauce, mashed potato might be a consideration. 

The cheeks will become incredibly tender, so treat them gently.

Booze? Well, more sherry, of course!

 

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