After my failed quest for pork cheeks the other week, I finally got hold of some last week. As it hadn’t been long since I’d made the Ox Cheek Ragu, and still have some in the freezer, I decided not to make my usual Pork Cheek Ragu. I thought I’d try braising them in the slow cooker instead.
If you haven’t had pork cheeks before they’re well worth trying to find. I get mine from Waitrose, but you could ask a local butcher. You just want the cushion part, not the whole cheek. These are delicious little nuggets of meat, which after long slow cooker (hence perfect for a ragu or to use in the slow cooker) are wonderfully tender.
As I have to travel about 35 miles to get hold of them I tend to stock up cook my pork cheek recipes in big batches. I got 7 portions from the recipe below, with the excess going in the freezer. If you want to cook a smaller quantity allow about 3-4 cheeks per portion. You’ll also need to reduce the quantities (by about a third) if using a smaller slow cooker.
You can cook this recipe in a casserole. Simmer on the hob for about 3 hours.
Pork cheeks – 3lb/1.5kg (about 21 cheeks)
Flour – 100g
Ground white pepper – ½ tablespoon
Salt – 1 teaspoon
Olive oil – 2-3 tablespoons (for frying)
Red onion – 1 large (peeled & diced)
Garlic – 3 cloves (finely diced or crushed)
Celery – 2 sticks (finely diced)
Carrots – 4 (peeled & sliced)
Swede – 1 medium (peeled & cut into small cubes)
Mushrooms – 350-400g (thickly sliced)
Chicken Stock – 1pt/550ml (I used 2 quantities of my homemade Chicken Stock)
Red wine – 200ml (optional)
Cider Vinegar – 50ml
Tomato puree – 1 tablespoon
Thyme – 1 teaspoon
Oregano – 1 teaspoon
Equipment: Chopping board, knife, frying pan, wooden spoon, slow cooker (5.7 litre capacity), plate, tongs
- Fry the onions in the frying pan, with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, on a medium-hot heat until soft and starting to colour.
- Add the garlic and celery and soften slightly.
- Meanwhile set the slow cooker on high, pour the hot stock, swede and carrots into the crock-pot, followed by the onions, celery and mushrooms, and cover.
- Prepare the pork cheeks removing the fatty membrane that’s on one side.
- On the plate mix together the flour, white pepper, and salt and coat the cheeks in the flour.
- Turn the heat on the frying pan to high and add another tablespoon of olive oil.
- Brown the cheeks in batches, taking care not to over fill the frying pan. Add more oil if necessary.
- Add the cheeks to the crock-pot, along with any excess flour, and herbs. Stir in.
- When all the meat has been browned turn the heat on the frying pan down to medium. Add the wine, cider vinegar and tomato puree to deglaze the pan. Reduce until it stops smelling of alcohol and add the crock-pot and stir in.
- Cover and cook on high for another hour, then low for 4-5 hours.
- Serve when meat it really tender and vegetables are cooked through.