Each year, the plunge into winter makes me grateful for a well-stocked larder and freezer, it makes it easy to create a repast even when it’s too cold to go outside and stock up on this-or-that. This is a wonderful prepare ahead dish, requires a little effort but well worth it. It’s comfort food at its best, a casserole with deliciously tender meat, flavoured with aromatic caraway, distinctive earthy anise, has I feel dinner party status. Scandinavians, Swedes and Finns especially love aniseed flavours, especially liquorice, a unique salty variety, many people I have met from other countries think it is completely vile (most, not all!). Personally, I love it but this has a more delicate aniseed flavour.
Slow Cooked Pigs Cheeks
- 12 evenly sized Pigs Cheeks trimmed
- 1 Medium Onion peeled and chopped
- 1 Large Carrot peeled and chopped
- 2 Sticks Celery chopped
- 2 Cloves Garlic crushed
- 75 g Tomato Puree
- 500 ml Dry Red Wine
- 400 ml Veal or Beef Stock
- 2 tsp Caraway Seeds
- 1 Bay Leaf
- Flour for dusting
- Dill to garnish
- For the Parsnip & Potato Puree
- 800 g Parsnips
- 800 g Maris Piper or King Edward Potatoes
- 200 mls Milk
- 110 g Butter
- Salt & White Pepper
- For the Vegetables
- 6 Carrots peeled
- 6 Shallots blanched & peeled
- 1 Clove Garlic sliced
- Olive oil & a knob of Butter
- 1. Set the oven to 140C. For the pigs' cheeks: season the pigs cheeks and dust with a little flour. Heat some olive oil in a cast iron pan if you have one and fry the cheeks until golden-brown on both sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- 2. Add the onions, celery, carrots and garlic and fry gently until lightly browned. Add the tomato purée and a little of the red wine. Reduce until the tomato purée starts to caramelise and darken. Carry on adding the wine in stages, reducing between each addition until the sauce is dark and rich in colour.
- 3. Return the cheeks to the pan and pour over just enough stock to cover. Add the caraway seeds and bay leaf, season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.
- 4. Cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 4 hours. Stir every hour or so, adding a little more stock if it has reduced too much and looks dry.
- 5. Whilst the pork is cooking prepare the parsnip and potato puree. Place the parsnips and potatoes in separate pans and cover with cold salted water. Bring to the boil and cook until tender. Drain the potatoes and pass through a potato ricer. Drain the parsnips and place in a blender with a little of the milk and butter, blitz and add to the potatoes. Heat the remaining butter and milk in a pan until hot, add to the puree and then season with salt and white pepper. Keep warm until needed. A little more milk and butter may be required if you're keeping the puree warm or re-heating.
- 6. Preheat the oven 175C. Heat a frying pan with a little olive oil and butter, add the shallots and brown on all sides. Place the carrots in a pan and cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer for 1 minute, remove and place in a roasting tray with the sliced garlic and thyme and a drizzle of olive oil. Add the shallots to the roasting tray with the carrots and place in the oven. Cook for 20 minutes.
- 7. When the cheeks are tender remove from the oven, with a slotted spoon remove the cheeks from the sauce and set to one side. Pass the sauce through a fine sieve into a clean pan. Simmer and reduce to a rich, luscious consistency, season if necessary. 8. Cut the carrots in half lengthways. Pile the parsnip and potato puree on the plate, followed by two cheeks and a drizzle of the rich sauce. And to finish arrange the carrot and shallot and garnish with a dill.