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:
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:
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.