If you’ve never cooked pork cheek before, you’re in for something special.
Once cooked, it’s meltingly tender and is a brilliant (albeit slightly overlooked) cut of meat to add to your repertoire.
This pork cheek in black garlic, with fondant potato, salsify, and sorrel oil is the perfect foray into said domain.
Many of the components here can be prepped ahead of time, allowing a stress-free but show-stopping meal. You’ll need a muslin cloth to make the sorrel oil, but infusing oils is another easy technique you can deploy again in the future.
Anyway, in summary, the recipe’s a banker and so are the tunes below.
Shopping list (serves 6):
Pork cheeks x 6
Black garlic cloves x 8
Carrot (diced) x 1
White onion (diced) x 1
White wine x 200ml
Chicken stock x 1L
Plain flour x 1 tbsp
Salsify (cleaned and peeled) x 500g
Unsalted butter x 50g
Large potatoes (peeled & halved) x 3
Rapeseed oil (or other neutral oil) x 50ml
Unsalted butter x 100g
Lemon thyme x 1 handful
Sorrel x 30g
Spinach x 1 small handful
Neutral oil x 300ml
Start the day before by blending the sorrel and spinach with the oil. Leave overnight, and then strain through a muslin cloth into clean container. Store in the fridge until needed. FYI you can do this with any green herb, to make a variety of infused oils.
Set your oven to 160°C (fan)/180°C.
For the cheeks, season them well with salt and black pepper, and coat in the flour and a glug of oil. Heat your casserole dish or pan until red-hot, and then brown the cheeks evenly. Remove and add the onion, carrot, and black garlic. Season well.
Fry these off over a medium heat for 15 minutes until soft. Add the white wine and reduce, before adding the stock, stirring well, and bringing to a simmer. Add the cheeks back in and cover. Cook for three hours in your oven.
Remove the cheeks from the sauce, and strain the liquid into a saucepan. Reduce this sauce until it has the consistency of a thick gravy (adding a touch more water along the way if needed). Set aside the cheeks and sauce until needed.
To make the salsify purée, simply boil the root vegetable in well-salted water for 30 minutes. Remove, and allow to steam-dry for 15 minutes or so. Add back into a pan with the butter, and blitz with a hand blender over a low heat, until smooth. Season to taste with salt, and keep warm until needed.
30 minutes before eating, you can start the potatoes. Slice the ends of the halves so they sit in your frying pan. Heat the oil and half the butter over a medium heat and cook the potatoes with the lemon thyme for 15 minutes on each side. Add the remaining butter at intervals, ensuring your baste them frequently, and season well with salt. Once golden brown on each end, and cooked through, you can turn off the heat.
Heat the black garlic sauce before serving and add the cheeks back in to cook through again. Serve with the fondant potatoes, salsify purée, and a drizzle of the sorrel oil.
Finish with a side of braised red cabbage, if you like.