A dish that ‘wow’s’ and is simple to make

PREP TIME: 15 mins
COOKING TIME: 2 hrs slow cook
DIFFICULTY: easy to medium
IDEAL FOR: a special meal

Tower of London Food Festival

I was inspired to try this dish after a chance visit to the Tower of London Food Festival.

I was walking by this amazing historical fortress with The Shard glistening in the background and noticed I could go in for a fiver.

It was a no brainer.

There were lots of independent stalls with amazing smells coming from them.

And a band playing into the crowd gathering post work.

I meandered around the huge stone walls that have been standing there for 100’s of years

And spotted Le Cordon Bleu demonstration tent.

A far cry from the days of William the Conqueror

He built the mighty stone tower at the centre of his London fortress in the 1070’s.

Then it was over to Henry lll and Edaward l who expanded the walls and the (now dried up) moat that we were all enjoying this food festival in.

And of course there were many gruesome things that took place at the Tower.

Including poor Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s new bride who only 3 years in was accused of adultery and treason.

And lost her head by sword on Tower Green.

I’m happy to say, that the atmosphere on this evening was a lot more light-hearted.

Le Cordon Bleu

I crept into the tent and took my place on a bench like a good student to learn from the world famous cookery school.

I’ve never been to a cookery demonstration and was pleasantly surprised at how good it was.

We watched the chef through the upside down mirror on the ceiling so we could see what he was doing in the pan etc

Le Cordon Bleu chef and his master piece that inspired me to give it a go

And listened to all his tips on getting great flavours.

The best part… we go to taste it!

Wow. Amazing.

So, that is how I was inspired to do this dish.

Thanks, Le Cordon Bleu!

My version of Le Cordon Bleu’s Braised Pork Cheek

Spring festival… Chinese New Year… Lunar Year

I didn’t think I could do a Braised Pork Cheek dish with its lovely Asian flavours without a nod to the Chinese New Year.

There’s no set date as it ranges from January to February.

It’s a festival to mark the end of the coldest days and welcome spring along.

Planting and harvests, new beginnings and fresh starts.

The Year of the Rat

It’s also the Year of the Rat.

The Rat is the first of all zodiac animals.

According to one myth, the Jade Emperor said the order would be decided by the order in which they arrived to his party.

The Rat tricked the Ox into giving him a ride (I’m an Ox…)

Just as they arrived, Rat jumped down and landed ahead of Ox, coming first (… typical).

In Chinese culture, rats were seen as a sign of wealth and surplus.

Rats are clever, quick thinkers; successful, but content with living a quiet and peaceful life.

I don’t think I know any Rats. lol

But I do know that this recipe was far more simple than I expected and definitely ‘wowed’ my family that night.

Do you know any great recipes like this? Let me know…

Print Pin
5 from 2 votes

Braised pork cheeks

Course Main Course
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings 4 people
Cost £


  • Casserole dish


  • 800 g pork cheeks
  • 100 g onion
  • 100 g carrot
  • 50 g celery
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 lemongrass stalks
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 zest of orange
  • 3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 9 tbsp Indonesian sweet soy
  • 500 ml veal stock if you can't find, try chicken and beef mixed or demi-glace meat stock
  • 200 ml water
  • vegetable oil for frying


  • 1 Pink Lady apple
  • 5 cm piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 large red chilli
  • 1 bunch spring onions
  • 2 bok choi or pak choi
  • handful of fresh coriander


  • Pre-heat the oven to 150C
    Trim the pork cheeks of any fat
  • In your casserole dish, add some oil and on a medium to high heat, sear the cheeks until golden brown. Then remove.
  • Dice the onion, carrot and celery and put into the casserole dish with the leftover juices etc from searing the cheeks. Cook until golden and caramelised.
  • Now, put the cheeks back in and reduce the heat to low.
    Add int he star anise, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, cardamom, orange zest, pomegranate molasses, sweet soy, veal stock and water.
  • Cover with a cartouche (basically, baking paper that you put on the surface of the ingredients to prevent a skin forming). Then put the casserole dish lid on and cook for 2 hours or until the cheeks are soft.
  • Once done, remove the pork cheeks from the dish and strain the rest of the ingredients through a sieve over a pan.
    Reduce this sauce over a high heat to a coating consistency, then add the pork cheeks and glaze them in the sauce.


  • Peel and dice the apple to thin strips.
    Peel and slice the ginger to very thin 5 cm strips.
  • Cut the chilli into thin rings and thinly slice the spring onions diagonally.
  • Halve the bok choi lengthwise and steam for 2 – 3 minutes or until tender.
  • Saute the apple and ginger strips in a little oil for 1 minute.

Assembly of the dish

  • Using a bowl plate (if you have one) put the bok choi in first. Add the braised pork cheeks and some sauce. Top with the apple and ginger strips, chilli, spring onions and coriander.

A Cordon Bleu recipe given to me at the Tower of London Food Festival

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