This is a melt-in-your-mouth, rich and flavourful dish using an inexpensive cut
Get stuck into this fantastic recipe of sherry-braised pork cheeks.
- SERVES: 4 – 6
- PREP TIME: 10 mins
- COOKING TIME: 2 hrs
- DIFFICULTY: easy
- IDEAL FOR: family, weekend dish, comfort food
- BUDGET: £
Sherry -braised pork cheeks
Don’t be put off by the sound of pork cheeks.
They really are a wonderful cut and feed a crowd without breaking the bank.
There is a lot of fat too but you cut the excess off and the rest renders down into an unctuous stew.
(I wouldn’t suggest eating this every week or month but it’s a lovely dish to have a go at).
The other bonus to this dish is the fact it’s a hands-off recipe.
You just prep for 10 mins then let the pork cheeks cook slowly for a couple of hours.
This means, all the amazing, unctuous flavours evolve slowly and joyously for you to take all the credit.
You could almost call pork cheeks a delicacy.
They are under-rated by most or more likely, unheard of unless you’re dining out in a gastropub or restaurant which does nose-to-tail cooking.
But these little gems, pack loads of flavour at minimal cost.
And while you’re looking to buy some pork cheeks, make sure you’re buying high-welfare pork.
You really don’t want to be supporting industrialised pig farming.
It’s not cool.
Don’t confuse pork cheeks with the jowl.
The jowl is fattier and surrounds the face.
Whereas the cheeks are more marbled and perfect for a melt-in-your-mouth slow-cooked stew.
Cooking pork cheeks
These cheap little cuts make a stew or casserole that will push aside your usual stews.
That’s mainly down to the fat content which melts away during cooking.
But don’t let that put you off, sometimes you need to treat yourself to a little bit of fat.
This is where the flavour lies.
You can eat salad for a few days prior or post this glorious meal if you want to balance things out a little.
Oh, and it’s worth noting, they do shrink quite a bit.
So, bear this in mind when buying them.
How to cook pork cheeks
It’s the best way as it ensures the cheeks aren’t tough and gives the fat time to render out, so they’re melt-in-your-mouth tender.
Give them a sear first to maximise flavour, in a frying pan first, making sure they’re golden all over.
Then slow cook them until they’re just starting to fall apart.
This is a little bit of an aside but interesting to know if you love your cooking, especially Italian.
Guanciale is cured unsmoked Italian pork.
The word Guanciale comes from the Italian word guancia, which means “cheek” (pork).
It’s a speciality from the Umbria and Lazio regions of Central Italy.
And is often used in spaghetti alla carbonara (uses eggs) and bucatini all’amatriciana (uses tomatoes instead of eggs).
Guanciale vs pancetta
The main difference between the two is;
Pancetta comes from the Italian world “pancia” which means belly (pork).
Guanciale comes from “guancia” which means cheek (pork).
The production of the two types of meat is also different as they have different spices and maturing periods.
Recipe: BBC GoodFood
Sherry-braised pork cheeks
- 800 g pork cheek, excess fat trimmed and cut on hallf
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- olive oil
- 1 tbsp flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
- 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
- 150 ml medium dry sherry
- 500 ml beef stock
- handful flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked
- handful toasted flaked almond
- In a large, deep pan, or casserole dish, over medium heat, add 1 – 2 tbsp olive oil, then add the onion and gently cook for 10 – 15 minutes until softened and lightly coloured. Remove and set aside.
- Lightly cover the cheeks in the seasoned flour. Add a little more oil to the pan and turn up the heat. Brown the pork cheeks all over (you may need to do iit n batches).
- Turn the heat down to medium and place all the cheeks and onions into the pan. Add the garlic, cumin and paprika and cook for a minute, then add the sherry.Scrape off any hard, crusty bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon as this adds flavour.
- Add the beef stock and bring to a simmer and let it gently simmer for 2 hrs or until the cheeks are tender.
- Scatter with parsley leaves and flaked almonds. Serve with creamy mashed potato.