Pig’s cheeks are of course made to braise. They are fatty and rich and extremely easy to cook. All you need is some strongish flavours to stand up to them and an hour-and-a-half and they practically prepare themselves. Rather than do the standard onion/carrot/celery (shame seems we don’t seem to have a word in English like soffritto or mirepoix to describe this fine mix), wine and herbs I thought I’d do a vaguely goulash inspired thing with plenty of paprika.
- pig’s cheeks – two each (they are quite rich so it’s not a meat to gorge on)
- onions (no. cheeks X 0.5)
- celery (no. cheeks X 0.33)
- lardons, bacon or a little chopped chorizo
- lots of smoked paprika, some garlic and minor gestures of dried chilli and caraway
- tinned tomatoes or passata
- glass red wine
Fry the onions and the same number of garlic cloves chopped in oil on a low heat for twenty minutes, adding the celery chopped after the first five. Brown the cheeks in a frying pan. Brown also the lardons or chorizo till the fat runs. Add to the onions mixture along with tinned chopped tomatoes or passata, deglaze the meat pan with a glass of red wine and scrape up the fat deposits. Add this mixture the pan, season lightly and bring to a light putter. They will need around ninety minutes to get soft – you should be able to split a cheek with the modest application of a blunt wooden spatula.
Serve with a little cream, plain boiled potatoes and a massive heap of humble greens. We had with brussels sprouts and winter greens mixed. Hope you enjoy!