Braised Pork Cheek & Proper Mash
Pork cheek! Yep, pork cheek. I warmly remember a version of this, when I was working for Martin Wishart in Edinburgh, many years ago. It is such a simple and beautiful cooking process, and makes the meat so tender and tasty.
And, proper mash… lets just say it tastes amazing, and is great for when you are on a diet.
Bold = available at Hams and Bacon
FOR THE PIG’S CHEEK
2 pig’s cheeks – 1-1.5kg, skin off, but with a little fat (I use Bundarra Berkshires)
1 large carrot, diced
1 large white onion, diced
1 teaspoon mild curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric, ground
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon salt flakes
150ml Nolly Pratt (dry vermouth or white wine can be substituted)
1-2 litres water
handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
FOR THE PROPER MASH
450g mashing potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks
1. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C. Place a large pot (one that has a lid) on a medium flame.
2. Seal the top of the pigs’ cheek (where the skin once was) until golden brown. Remove from the pot, and reduce flame to a low heat.
3. Remove a little of the excess fat from the pot, then add the carrot and onion, and sweat until softened. Add all the spices and salt, then cook out for 3-5 minutes. Deglaze the pot with the verjus and Nolly Pratt and reduce by half.
4. Return the pork cheeks to the pot, and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then place into the oven for 1 ½ hours, until the cheeks are cooked.
5. Once your cheeks are in the oven, get a large pot that fits the potatoes and add water to cover. Bring to the boil, and simmer until cooked (around 12-18 minutes).
6. Once the potatoes are cooked, strain off the water & return them to the pot. Over a low heat, dry them out a little by gently mixing over the flame. Now mash them! If it’s an old-school masher you have, good on ya! Go to town on them, but then pass the mash through a fine sieve. This will give you a nice, smooth result. Set to the side.
7. Now wash out the pan, dry & then return the mash to the pot. Add the butter and whip using a wooden spoon until the butter looks to be splitting in the pot. Add the milk, and give it a really good mix with the spoon. Add salt and if you must, ground pepper, then serve. This is the buttery goodness that is proper mash!
8. Now, return your attention to your cheeks, cooking away in the oven. To test if they are ready, insert a skewer and if it goes through smoothly, they’re ready to go. When they’re done, strain off all the juices into a pot. Reserve the cheeks and veggies to one side, and reduce the liquid until it’s a lovely sauce consistency.
9. Now return the cheeks and veggies, add the parsley and warm through.
10. Serve a generous amount of mash, and a good amount of cheek and veg on top. Make sure you get plenty of sauce for sopping up!