Dinnertime: Braised Pig Cheeks

I really love slow cooking things, especially casserole-esque goodies that can be kept and easily heated up at work for lunch the next day. When I was out and about this afternoon I saw some pig cheeks, which although fairly unusual in supermarkets I know for a fact are delicious when treated with some tender loving care. 

To cook my dinner I followed (or attempted to) this recipe for braised pig cheeks from  James Martin. I have a bugbear about buying a whole packet of something just for the sake of using one unit of it for a particular recipe, so instead of a banana shallot I used half a medium onion, and instead of a bouquet garni I used a tablespoon of thyme and oregano plus a couple of bay leaves.

Time: Takes about 30 minutes to prepare plus another 2 – 2 and a half hours cooking time.

Cost: The most expensive ingredient was the pig cheeks, which were were £3.73 altogether from Morrisons. Next was probably the wine at £5 per bottle – you use 200ml (equating to £1.30), with the rest to swig on as you cook or with your lovely dinner later on. TOTAL COST: £10.50

Feeds four hungry people, working out at a cost per head of just over £2.60.

Ingredients

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For the braised pig cheeks:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 12 pig cheeks, trimmed
  • 1 large banana shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 200ml/7fl oz red wine
  • 400ml/14fl oz veal jus or beef stock
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 100g/3½oz unsalted butter, diced

Mr Martin suggests serving this with a creamy mash, sweet carrots, Bramley apple sauce and buttery kale. I did it with some squeaky green beans and mustard mash but I did make his apple sauce – the ingredients of which are below:

  • 2 Bramley apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 50g/1¾oz butter
  • 2-4 tbsp caster sugar, to taste

And for my mustard mash you’ll need:

  • About 1Kg of potatoes (King Edwards or Maris Pipers preferably)
  • 3 tablespoons of wholegrain mustard
  • A big splash of whole milk or double cream
  • A quite massive block of butter (however much you want, but really, the more the better)
  • Salt and white pepper, to season

 

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 150C/130C Fan/Gas 2.

  • Heat a large ovenproof dish on the hob (I used a John Lewis cast iron casserole dish that I got from Homesense for £40 a couple of years back), once hot add the olive oil. Fry the pig cheeks in batches (I did them in sets of four) until they are golden-brown in colour. Make sure when you first put them in the pan you don’t touch them for a minute or so, that way they get a chance to caramalise and colour up nicely. Then set them aside.

 

 

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