If you’re a regular reader of my blog you’ll know I’m a big fan or pork cheeks, especially in the slow cooker (Slow Cooker Braised Pork Cheeks) and for pasta sauces (Cheeky Pork Ragu). Slow cooked they are delicious and tender. I had intended to use them to make my usual ragu, but last week the weather in Britain was terrible, with flooding practically cutting off my village (two roads were closed and I didn’t want to risk taking my little car out on the other flooded road), I had to make do with what I had in the house. I had some mushrooms, and some beef stock/gravy in the freezer which had been left over from another slow cooker meal, as well as the basics of onions, garlic, herbs and wine.
This may have been an improvised meal but the result was delicious. This recipe serves 4-6.
Pork cheeks – 7 cheeks appox. 1lb/450g (membrane removed)
Portabello mushrooms – 4 large (diced)
Garlic – 1 bulb (half cloves minced and half finley chopped)
Red onion – 2 large (finely diced)
Flour – 1 tablespoon
Red wine – 7 fl oz/200ml
Tomato puree – 1 tablespoon
Beef or chicken stock – ½ pint I don’t usually insist on using fresh/homemade stock but for this recipe I think it is essential as you need a really well-flavoured stock.
Star porcini stock cube – 1 (optional – if you can’t get hold of it a few dried porcini would be a good substitute, if not perhaps better)
Seasoning: Italian seasoning, pepper, 2 bay leaves, chilli flakes
Pasta – 1lb 2oz/ 500g (dry weight)
Equipment: Chopping board, knife, frying pan, wooden spoon, slow cooker, tongs, plate
- In a hot frying pan heat the oil and add the mushrooms and the minced garlic, and sautee for 5 minutes until soft. Stir in the seasoning and fry for another minute.
- Set the slow cooker on high and when the mushrooms are cooked add them to the crock-pot.
- Put a little more oil in the pan and brown the pork cheeks on all sides before placing on top of the mushrooms.
- Fry the onions in pan (add more oil if needed) sautee for a few minutes until starting to colour before adding the garlic and turning down the heat a little and fry for a few more minutes.
- Add the flour to the pan and coat the onions with it before adding the wine, stirring well so you don’t get lumps.
- Cook off the alcohol (until the pan stops smelling of booze) and stir in the tomato puree.
- Gradually add the stock and the stock cube/dried porcini, stirring in well.
- When all the stock is in simmer for a minute, add some seasoning and pour into the crock pot, stirring in the mushrooms.
- Leave on high for an hour if possible, then switch to low for 6 hours.
- An hour before your ready to serve remove the pork cheeks from the crock-pot and break up using a knife and fork before stirring them back into the sauce.
- Cook the pasta until it is just a little off al dente. Drain and add to the crock-pot, coating well with the sauce. Leave in the crock-pot for at least 30 minutes-1 hour on low, or up to 2 hours on warm.