Pork cheek is a widely available and popular cut in France, costing between 16 and 20 euros per kilo from independent butchers. It is a cut for slow cooking (Fr. confites) and when it is served the meat should be soft enough to cut with a spoon. You need to be a bit organised with this dish, as not only does it require a short marination before a long simmering, but it is better cooked the day before you eat it, then reheated for serving. If you are a fan of nose to tail eating, this dish is totally worth the wait.
800 g pork cheek (chunks of pork shoulder could be substituted)
5 tbsp olive oil (one that's been infused with a flavour is good)
5 cloves of garlic, crushed
Salt (smoked flakes are nice)
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup water
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
- Heat the oven to 220C.
- Mix the oil, garlic, salt and pepper in an oven proof dish to make a marinade.
- Coat the pork in the marinade and leave for at least half an hour.
- Add the water to the dish and put the pork in the oven.
- Cook for 10 minutes, then add the shallots, vinegar and sugar.
- Stir the pork and lower the temperature of the oven to 150C.
- Cook for 2 hours 20 minutes, basting and turning the pork every 20 minutes.
- The next day reheat by returning the dish to the oven at 150C for 30 minutes.
- Serves 4, with potatoes (mash, dauphinoise or Anna) or pasta, slow roasted tomatoes and steamed buttered root vegetables, cabbage or romanescu.