Just about any stewing or braising preparation would suit pork cheeks. A pork cheek is not an irregularly shaped cut like trotter or a hock, nor does it have too much fat to be rendered or dealt with in some way, such as pork belly. A pork cheek is just a perfect round of flesh and collagen, and so conveniently sized that you don't even have to cut it up before adding it to the pot.
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[Photograph: Chichi Wang] About the author: Chichi Wang took her degree in philosophy, but decided that writing about food would be much more fun than writing about Plato. She firmly believes in all things offal, the importance of reading great...
What makes cheeks so good? Relatively lean, yet very moist meat. There are few parts of the animal for which this is true. Usually, you need marbled fat to get the same degree of tenderness—say, in the neck region, the shoulders, or in parts of the brisket. But cheek meat is like hock meat—the same kind of lean meat connected by lots of tissues and collagen. Cook it for a long time, and the meat breaks down into hockey-puck-sized nuggets of fork-tender flesh.
An Italian braise with tomato sauce and red wine is always a winner, and a step away from being a complete meal with the addition of pasta, spaetzle, or polenta.
I can never get enough of a Sichuan-style red-braise with chili bean paste (made from fava beans and chili oil), fermented black beans, soy sauce, wine, and sugar. Plenty of sichuan peppercorns go into the braise and are sprinkled on top, if desired. The spicy rich sauce can be spooned over rice or noodles and served with vegetables, roasted or braised. Daikon is the classic Sichuan pairing for red-braised meat, but root vegetables of any kind would be good, as would cauliflower or long-cooked greens.