Monday, 17 May 2010

Pig's cheek stew with cauliflower mash

Waitrose has a clever thing at its meat counter called "forgotten cuts", where they sell the odds and ends of animal, which have become so fashionable in the last four or five years.

Usually it's just pork belly and kidney and I'm like "Yawn, not forgotten by me, laddie-me-lad" but the other day they were offering a pack of pig's cheeks. And I said to myself "Hello. Now that really is interesting." So I bought them. Here they are.

I always consider recipes that work first time (for me) as "easy" recipes, since I am so liable to get things wrong. And when I say get things wrong, I mean be too lazy to read the recipe properly, or to measure ingredients out correctly, or put the kitchen timer on. But since this recipe went right first time, I categorize it as being an "easy" recipe. I also had with it a cauliflower mash, inspired by the fashion and food blogger Liberty London Girl, who was busy poking fun at me the other week for my fear of carbohydrate. But I put a potato in it. Ha! (DID YOU LIKE MY HYPERLINK?)

So here we go. This stew makes the pig's cheeks taste quite like beef, but in a nice way. The recipe is a bastardisation of a thing I found in a Gary Rhodes book, the name of which now escapes me.

For the pig's cheek stew:
For 2

4 pig's cheeks
2 carrots, quartered
2 stick celery, quartered
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 medium onion
1/3 bottle cheap red wine
1/3 pint of stock
4 black peppercorns
Assorted herbs: parsley, sage, thyne and bay leaf. But do not worry if you don't have any/all

1 - Brown the pig's cheeks in a large frying pan for about 4-5 minutes each side. I think it's important here to fry in either ground-nut oil or lard and NOT olive oil because the olive oil will burn and taste horrible. Remove the cheeks to a casserole dish.

2 - Fry the onions, carrots, garlic and celery for 10 minutes over a very low flame. I know it's boring and it seems like nothing's happening but if you cook them any hotter they'll burn, you know they will.

3 - Add the red wine and the stock to the vegetables and bring to a brisk simmer. Then add to the cheeks. Stir round and then add the herbs and four black peppercorns. Give it another stir and put the lid on and cook on a low heat for 2 hours. Season to taste with salt after it's cooked.

Here are some herbs. I happened to have a lot hanging around so I put a lot in, but this would work just as well with whatever you've got - thyme OR bay leaves or sage or whatever.

For the cauliflower mash:
For 2

1 cauliflower
1 medium sized floury potato (like a King Edward)
1 tablespoon of cream
1 large pinch of salt

1 - Boil the potato and cauliflower until soft - the potato takes about 25 minutes, if chopped into 4 and the cauliflower takes about 5 minutes.
2 - Put the potato and cauliflower into a blender and WHIZZ. Add a tablespoon of cream and a large pinch of salt. I had to blend my cauliflower and potato mix in two batches.

So there we go. Not very summery, but then it's not really summer yet.


  1. Even yummier -- and less anaemic -- if you get a little colour in your cauli before mushing.

    A couple of options:

    Cut the cauliflower head into slices; toss in a little olive oil and seasoning, and roast in a hot oven for half an hour or so.

    Or Roman style: steam until just starting to soften, then saute in a hot pan until golden.

    Either way, a little garlic (roasted or sauteed) is just the complement.

    And to top it off, a handful of crunchy, golden, garlicky breadcrumbs. But that might bring the jackboots of the Kohlenhydratpolizei to your door ...

  2. Thank you for this very instructive comment, Anon. xx

  3. I made the mash this evening and it was divine. I added a large pinch of turmeric. Thanks for this!

  4. Hey Maurits, welcome! I'm so pleased the mash worked out for you. I love it. xxx