Friday, September 30, 2011

Pork Cheek

We picked up some rare breed pork cheeks at the Masterton market, I decided to slow braise the meat and serve with some polenta. The cheeks have a beautiful layer of tasty fat and I thought the slow cooking would enhance its flavour.

I first prepared the pan for braising, I lined the bottom of the pan with tin-foil so I could seal it better later. Diced carrots, sliced onion, paprika (smoked), bay leaf, garlic, coriander and fennel seeds made up a bed for the cheek.

The meat got heavily browned on both sides and seasoned with salt and pepper. I then deglazed the pan with some chicken stock. The cheek was then placed on the bed of vegetables and the stock carefully poured around it.

Sealed up nice and tight, cooked for about 3-4 hours at 130°C. When cooked, the meat was placed in a bowl and the cooking liquid strained over it and it was left to rest (Don't discard the vegetables).

While the meat was resting I got the polenta on the go (I use 8 parts liquid, 1 part instant polenta and 1 part semolina flour). A mix of milk, water and butter made up the liquid part, when the liquid starts to boil remove it from the heat and while whisking sprinkle in the dry mix. Place the pot back on a very low heat and stir constantly until a thick porridge consistency is achieved.

Retrieve the pork from the liquid and cut in to generous slices. Spoon some polenta in to a bowl and top with the vegetables, pork slices and spoon over some of the cooking liquid.


  1. Did something similar yesterday, based on your recipe. Leeks + carrots + smoked paprika + stock + cheeks in a crockpot for about 7 hours, served with mashed potato and gravy made from the liquor. Pleased with the result, but by, the cheeks didn't half shrink :) .

    1. Sounds tasty, the meat must of been very tender.