RECIPE: Pig cheek casserole


My pig's cheeks in cider with roast apple slices is one of the most popular recipes on this blog. It still gets a ton of hits. The main difference is that back then in 2010 when I wrote the post, you could get a bag of cheeks for £1.20. Now word is very much out that these gelatinous, melting soft pillows of meat are not just dog bowl fodder, but one of the prized parts of the pig, the price has racked right up. This last bag of cheeks cost £7.99/kg from Waitrose so nearer £5.50. Still, grab some if you can get them (the things are scarce these days!) as the reward it worth it at any cost. 

The other change is that now we have a child, cooking things in booze isn't really ideal so I have crafted a recipe that slowly cooks the cheeks in stock. The cider vinegar replaces the acidic twist I think a good sauce needs instead. Normally I pop these in the oven but 2 hours gently simmering on the stove was just as good. I served the cheeks with wet Parmesan polenta and sprout flowers, but good ol' mash and savoy is good as well. 


Serves 2-3

Olive oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
Plain flour, for dusting
Seasoning
700g pigs cheeks (about 8 medium sized cheeks)
30 ml cider vinegar
600ml chicken stock (700ml stock for 1.5kg cheeks)
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1/4 swede, peeled and chopped
100g button mushroom, cleaned and left whole if small or halved
2 bay leaf
2 rosemary sprig
Heaped tbs tomato puree

Trim the cheeks of excess fat, removing any membrane, sinew etc.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed casserole pot and gently fry chopped onion until translucent. Add the crushed garlic clove for a few minutes. Remove both from the pan and set aside.

In a shallow bowl, season the plain flour and dust each pig cheek in it. Add more oil to the casserole pot and brown cheeks evenly. Do this in batches so the pan doesn't get crowded.

Remove the cheeks and set aside. Add the cider vinegar and a dash of the chicken stock to thoroughly deglaze pan, scraping any flour off the bottom of the pan.

Add back in the onions, garlic, pigs cheeks with the chopped vegetables, herbs, remaining stock and tomato puree.

Simmer gently for 2 hours, giving the casserole a stir and checking that the sauce does not reduce down too much. It should thicken well, but add more water if it looks like it may dry out.  

Turn off the heat and just allow the casserole to stand for 15 minutes. This helps it become even more tender. 

Before and after 2 hours