I love to use forgotten cuts of meat at home.
Due to the lack of popularity you can snag yourself a great bargain and it forces you to think more creatively when you cook more difficult cuts of meat. You can achieve something just as special as when you cook with something like a fillet steak.
In the case of Pigs Cheeks these little nuggets of joy cost about £3 a kilo easily enough to feed up to 4 people. Pigs cheeks can be difficult to find but your butcher should be able to get them in. Alternatively supermarkets like Waitrose are starting to stock them as part of their ‘forgotten cuts’ range.
A pigs cheek is a tough muscle of meat; imagine little porkers knocking around in fields with nothing to do but chew the fat with their porky buddies. They require long and slow cooking so are ideal for braises and pies. The cooking methods while easy enough do take time and that’s what puts people off, but after 10 minutes of prep you can walk away and come back to a complete dish.
I decided to use some beer with my pig cheeks as it was what I fancied at the time. I like to use dark beer in casseroles as it gives the stew a lovely savoury note. However a good dry cider would also be fantastic with this dish.
- 500g pigs cheeks
- 1 onion
- 2 carrots
- 2 stalks of celery
- bottle of beer or cider (the real stuff here.)
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 peppercorns
- 5g salt
- 5g flour
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Season and flour the pork cheeks and shallow fry in a deep casserole till coloured, then remove the meat to a plate.
- In the same casserole sauté the chopped vegetables in a little oil for 10 minutes.
- Add back the meat, peppercorns, bay leave, tomato paste and beer.
- bring to a gentle simmer and place covered in an oven at 160 degrees for anywhere between 2-6 hours.
- Check and correct any seasoning towards the end of cooking.
- 30 minutes before serving make up some dumplings, 50g of suet, 50g of self-raising flour a pinch of salt and enough water to bind. You can add any flavour you like to the dumplings here I have opted for fresh chopped oregano.
- Place the dumplings on top of the stew, cover and put back in the oven for 20 minutes.