Not my usual format of article this week as I am going to jump straight into the recipe. Apart from not having fully thought out where this article will actually go, I wanted to talk about the recipe before some of you decide not to read any further. Yes, pork cheeks and they are delicious, trust me!! If my recommendation is not enough, you might not be aware that it is served in one of the finest traditional London restaurants, Simpson’s-in-the-Strand, and it is far from the cheapest starter on their menu……
It is some time since I sampled this restaurants board of fare, in fact it was many years ago when I found myself in London, on business, with a small group of Americans. I was volunteered to choose the restaurant, and chose Simpson’s. It is of course quintessentially British and perfect for visitors looking to immerse themselves in Simpson’s 185 years of culinary history. The truth is that I also wanted to try the restaurant as my parents-in-law had gone there on a sightseeing trip to London and had extolled its virtues to me on numerous occasions since.
After a short walk down the street from our hotel we found ourselves at Simpson’s, only to be confronted with a major problem, it was fully booked…….
So, after temporarily pushing my dignity to one side, I gave them a sob story about my parents-in-law, the fact that I had come all the way from Spain to try the restaurant etc. I didn’t actually get down on my knees, nor did I shed any tears, but it came close at one point. Don’t get me wrong, everything I said was true, I just laid it on a bit thick!
I am not sure that I actually convinced the young lady responsible for managing the thick tome that held the reservations for the day. Luckily a gentleman, who had until that moment kept a discrete distance behind the aforementioned lady, came forward. I have no idea who he was, or what he did, but howe’er it was we were let in and sat at one of their tables. My thanks go out to the restaurant and their flexibility in finding us a table.
The restaurant harks back to a by-gone age, with rich wood panelling, fine chandeliers and period tableware. The service is exquisite and the food is even better. If you are in London I would recommend you give it a try, I would also recommend you book first!
And so back to the pork cheeks…..well it looks like the article got away from me again, my intentions of focusing in on the recipe first having fallen by the wayside. This recipe comes from the book “Cocíname un Puchero”, a local edited compilation of traditional recipes, that I mentioned in a previous article.
In some ways the result is much like a “beef bourguignon”, where the slow cooking tenderises what is a relatively poor cut of meat whilst the red wine adds depth of flavour to the plate of food. As it is a local recipe and the cheeks are cooked in wine, I chose a bottle from the village here that a neighbour had kindly given us:
To reduce the actual cooking time this recipe uses a pressure cooker, but the dish can of course be cooked without as long as you give the meat plenty of time to become tender.
Carrilleras de Cerdo / Pork Cheeks
4 Garlic cloves
4 Pork cheeks (400g each)
350ml Red wine
Finely dice the garlic, carrots and onions.
Heat some oil in a pressure cooker until quite hot. If possible the pressure cooker should be big enough to just hold the pork cheeks snugly, to make it easier to cover the meat with the wine.
Season the pork cheeks and brown quickly in the hot oil. Reserve.
Reduce the heat and fry the vegetables until just starting to soften.
Add in the pork cheeks and the red wine. Add water if necessary to just cover the meat.
Seal the pressure cooker and heat up until the high pressure mark is reached.
Cook for 45 minutes.
Leave the pressure cooker to cool slightly and the pressure to drop. Open and remove the pork cheeks.
If the sauce is too thin, boil to evaporate some of the water to thicken.
Pop the cheeks back into the pan to re-heat then serve.
This recipe is simple and delicious. Don’t be put off by the pork cheeks, you will probably find that they are cheap to buy and very tasty to eat.
The pork cheeks I used were actually on the bone. If you are serving the cheeks with carbohydrates and / or vegetables one per person is probably enough.
Please also note that this pork dish freezes very well. Four cheeks fit nicely in our pressure cooker and we tend to eat two and freeze two!
This week I thought I would recommend a Stifado, another dish that benefits from a long slow cooking time:
For the Stifado recipe just click here:
And after the Stifado or the Pork Cheeks, a sharp lemon tart to enliven the taste buds:
For the lemon tart recipe just click here:
tsp – Teaspoon – 5ml
tbsp – Tablespoon – 15ml
Imperial to Metric Measurement:
1 oz – 28g
1 lb – 16 oz – 454g
1 gill – ¼ pint – 142ml
1 inch – 25mm
Common Flour Types:
Gluten: 8% to 10%
Type: ES 70W
All-Purpose Flour / Plain Flour
Gluten: 8% to 11%
Type: DE 550 / FR 55 / IT 0 / ES 200W
Bread Flour / Strong Flour / Hard Flour
Gluten: 12% to 14% protein (gluten)
Type: DE 812 / FR 80 / IT 1 / ES 400W
2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge