Do you see what I did in the headline? That subtle little play on words. A sort of culinary double entendre. The pig’s cheeks, cooked sous vide are cooked rare. Pig’s cheeks are not very easy to come by. Both play to add a bit of wit to the headline. You will just have to take my word for it, this is a rare treat. It is not very difficult to prepare any element of this dish but, you will need to have your timing chain well adjusted.
I served Pig’s Cheeks with Garlic Mash, Caramelised Apples, Stem Broccoli and Pork Gravy. The ingredients list is slightly involved. I had some highly concentrated pork stock in the freezer. This was the base for the gravy. So, here’s the ingredients list:
For the cheeks
- 24 pigs cheeks
- 3 teaspoons of 5 spice powder
For the gravy
- 1 half pint of concentrated pork stock
- A glass of white wine
- A pinch of salt
For the garlic mash
- A bulb of garlic
- A kilo of potatoes
- 300 ml of milk
- A knob of butter
- A large pinch of salt
For the apples
- 4 Bramley apples
- 3 or 4 large knobs of butter
- 2 teaspoons of brown sugar
You can work out how to do the broccoli on your own. I steamed ours. The trickiest part of this recipe is preparing the pig’s cheeks. What I did here was to take the obvious membrane off the outside of the cheeks. I prepared 24 cheeks to serve six people.
Dust the cheeks, on one side, with five spice powder.
Vacuum sealed the cheeks and cook them sous vide for 8 hours at 80ºC. (I will experiment with lower temperatures and longer cooking times next time.)
Once the cheeks go into the water bath, there is nothing to do for seven hours or so. To make a delicious garlic mash, place the bulb of garlic in the oven at 200ºC for half an hour. The resulting bulb will look like this:
Boil or steam the potatoes. Gently pull the garlic bulb apart and squeeze the flesh out of each clove. It will be the consistency of toothpaste. Add this to the milk. Warm the milk until it is simmering. Add the garlic milk, butter and salt to the potatoes. Mash until you have a creamy lightly airy consistency.
Heat a frying pan to medium and add one of the knobs of butter. Slice the apples and add to the pan. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Turn gently and brown on the other side. Remove and keep warm.
When the apples are cooked, add the pork stock and wine. Turn up to a rolling boil. Reduce until you have a gravy consistency. Taste and season with a bit of salt. The flavour of the apples will help harmonise the dish. Remove the pig’s cheeks from the sous vide. Pat them dry and very briefly fry them in a little oil, to brown the exterior.
Assemble the dish and drizzle with some of the gravy.
This is a rare treat for whoever is dining with you. Though, it will be less rare in this house in future.