Last year I discovered pork cheeks, and I was certainly impressed. They’re cheap, tasty and easy to cook. Pork cheeks need long slow cooking, but given a bit of time they’re wonderfully tender.
The only disappointment was the lack of recipes around (beyond pork cheeks braised wine and/or stock) so I decided to experiment with them to make a pasta sauce, and the results were great.
The recipe below makes about 6-8 portions, depending on how hungry/greedy you are. It freezes really well. To reheat later simply defrost and reheat in a pan, simmering for 15 minutes.
If you want to cook this recipe in a slow cooker follow the recipe below until step 7. Add all ingredients to the crock-pot, with tomato puree, only 1 can of tomatoes, half the passata, and about half the stock (just make sure the ingredients are covered by the liquid). Add the sugar and salt an hour before the end of the cooking time. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 8-10 hours.
Pork cheeks – 14
Olive oil – 1 tablespoon for each pan
Onions – 2 red/white/a combination (finely diced)
Garlic – 5 large cloves (crushed)
Carrots – 2 large (finely diced)
Celery – 2 stalks and the leaves of the heart (finely diced)
Mushrooms – 250-300g (sliced)
Red wine – 200ml
Tomato puree – 60-70g
Canned tomatoes – 2 400g tins (I use whole plum tomatoes and mash them up a bit in the pan.
Passata – 200ml
Chicken stock – 400ml
Herbs and spices – a good Italian seasoning, chilli flakes, oregano, bay leaf, pepper, salt.
Sugar – 2-3 teaspoons to taste.
Equipment: chopping board, knife, garlic crusher, large pan/casserole, large frying pan, wooden spoon, slotted spoon.
- Fry the onions with olive oil in the large pan on a low-medium heat until they turn soft and translucent.
- Add the garlic, carrots, celery and soften.
- Stir in the mushrooms.
- Meanwhile, prepare the pork cheeks removing the fatty membrane that’s on one side.
- Brown in a hot frying pan in batches and add to the vegetables.
- When all the meat is browned deglaze the frying pan with the red wine and add it to the pan.
- When it stops smelling like alcohol add the tomato puree and herbs and spices (except the salt), stirring in well, followed by the canned tomatoes, passata and stock.
- Simmer on a low heat for about 3 hours.
- After 2 hours try the sauce and add the sugar and salt to taste, add extra herbs if desired.
- After 2½-3 hours remove the pork cheeks with a slotted spoon. They should be very tender and almost falling apart. Break up with a knife and fork into little chunk and return to the pan for 10-15 minutes while you prepare the pasta.
- Combine with the pasta and serve with plenty of cheese.