BRAISED PORK CHEEKS

IMG_2355When you raise your own pork you respect every bit of the pig.  From pig’s ears to its tail you don’t waste any part of your precious pig.  Pork cheeks are the slip of meat in the hollow just below the eye.   Cooked slowly it becomes meltingly, incredibly tender.  The meat dark as night.   A generous lashing of sherry.  A dash or two of sweet smoked paprika and cumin.  Onion, garlic and carrots – all  combine to add delicious layers of flavour. The sauce becomes so incredibly rich one wants to ladle it lavishly over creamy mashed potatoes.   Pork cheeks simmers away in this flavourful sauce for a few hours filling your kitchen with their delicious aroma. Pork cheeks are an economical cut and should be available at your butcher.  You may have to order it in advance but it is so worth the wait.

IMG_2347Take your time to slowly brown pork cheeks on all sides.

IMG_2346Simmer slowly in the oven adding more liquid if necessary.

BRAISED PORK CHEEKS
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: slow cooked braised pork
Cuisine: Canadian
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Off cut - pork cheeks braised and slowly cooked in a rich sauce and served with creamy mashed potatoes
Ingredients
  • 1 to 1 1 /2 pounds of pork cheeks, excess fat trimmed and meat cut into 2 or 3 pieces. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped.
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper.
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic cloves, crushed.
  • 1½ cups finely chopped carrots.
  • A generous ½ teaspoon ground cumin.
  • 1 generous teaspoon sweet smoked paprika,
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • A small tied bundle fresh thyme.
  • A generous ½ cup sherry (sweet or dry)
  • 1 - 2 cups pork stock. (or beef stock)
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons flour
Instructions
  1. In a Dutch oven put a good dash of olive oil.
  2. Over medium heat brown the pork cheeks on all sides.
  3. Remove pork cheeks and set aside.
  4. If there is excess fat in the pan pour off all but 2 tablespoons.
  5. Add the onions to the pan and sprinkle with salt.
  6. Saute until the onions become translucent.
  7. Add the carrots and garlic cloves and saute for a few minutes.
  8. Add the cumin, bay leaves, thyme and paprika and stir to combine.
  9. Pour in the sherry and scrap up the brown bits at the bottom of the pan.
  10. Simmer the sherry until it reduces by half.
  11. Stir in one cup of the beef stock.
  12. Return the meat to the pan and cover.
  13. Cook at 300F for 2½ to 3 hours until the meat become fork tender adding more stock if needed.
  14. Remove the meat to a serving dish and keep warm.
  15. Remove the thyme bundle and bay leaf from the liquid..
  16. Taste the liquid and add salt and freshly ground pepper as required.
  17. Put the water and flour into a small tightly lidded jar and shake VERY well.
  18. Over high heat whisk the flour/water combination into the liquid in the Dutch oven. Initially use only half of this mixture and then add the rest if your sauce is not thick enough.
  19. Serve with cream mashed potatoes or baked potatoes.

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It was our last night in Paris.   The night sky was fading as we wandered into an old bistro in the lst Arrondissment.    This is the  area where  the citizens of the old market place of Les Halles  worked 24 hours a day  distributing food to every corner of Paris.   And, this is where we ended our Paris adventure with bowls of  restorative onion soup, crowned with bread encrusted with gruyere cheese.

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The secret to a great onion soup is slowing cooking your onions.

Serve with a crisp, citrusy whites; Sancerre, Pouilly Fume

FRENCH ONION SOUP LES HALLES INSPIRED
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: Soup
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Les Hales, this is where we ended our Paris adventure with bowls of restorative onion soup, crowned with bread encrusted with gruyere cheese.
Ingredients
  • 4 TBS BUTTER
  • 6 TO 7 ONIONS THINLY SLICED
  • 8 CUPS OF REALLY GOOD HOME MADE CHICKEN STOCK
  • 1 CUP (250 G) GRATED EMMENTALER, GRUYERE OR COMTE CHEESE
  • 4 LARGE SLICES TOASTED BAGUETTE
  • SALT AND LOTS OF FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER, TO TASTE
  • A SHOT OF SHERRY (OPTIONAL) ... or pour yourself a glass while the onions cook.
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in a large casserole, add onions, sprinkle them with a little salt, and cook covered over low heat for at least 30 minutes, stirring every once in a while.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the stock, grate the cheese, toast the bread, and get the bowls ready.
  3. Once the onions are translucent and slightly caramelized, add the stock, and allow to cook covered for 15 minutes. Season to taste.
  4. Optionally, add a shot of sherry before serving.
  5. Stir the soup, and ladle into the four bowls. Place toast on top of each bowl, and cover generously with cheese. You may find you want more cheese than the recipe calls for.
  6. Place on a baking dish under the broiler until the cheese melts, bubbles, and is golden. Remove from oven, place bowl on a small place, and serve immediately.
Notes
Serve with a crisp, citrusy whites; Sancerre, Pouilly Fume

 

 

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