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Last year the process of sharing my kitchen adventures with all of you helped me to step out of my comfort zone and experiment with some lesser known/used cuts of pork – the jowls and the cheeks. Really it was a mix of thinking ‘this will make a great blog post‘ and my inability to take the easy uncomplicated route when it comes to life cooking. During that first time cooking with the cheek and jowls, or what I liked to call my weekend meat party part one and two, there were lots of moments thinking what exactly had I gotten myself into. The phrase ‘bitten off more than I could chew’ seemed to really sum up that weekend. However in a stroke of dumb luck both meals turned out pretty good… Don’t you think??

I probably did about 10 hours of prep/cooking/cleaning that weekend and hosted two dinner parties.. no big deal right?! Aside from indulging in good food and great evenings with friends, the best outcome was discovering how amazing these two lesser known, cheaper cuts of meat can be. Growing up in a small town on the east coast of Canada you would never find these pieces of meat in the local grocery store.

So I have to say if you want to wow at your next dinner party try the slow braised pork cheeks, it is mostly prepared in advance and easily plated up to look amazing, you and your lucky guests will not be disappointed.

This past weekend I got a surprise visit from T. Thank you bad weather! I wanted to cook a special dinner for us and after a little contemplation I remembered how much T. loved these braised pork cheeks. One quick tweet to my butcher and I was in luck the pork cheeks were waiting for me. I did not anticipate the biggest challenge would be the parsnips, and after an unsuccessful trip to the farmers market and two grocery stores I gave up. Really what’s the world coming to when you can’t find parsnip!? SO I changed up the meal and plating a bit, this time serving the cheeks with mashed potatoes, whole roasted carrots and asparagus. I also left a sauce a bit thicker for a more rustic meal. The second making of the braised cheeks wasn’t as pretty as the first but it was just as delicious!

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I noticed in the first posting of this recipe I didn’t include photos of the steps as I went along, so here is the process… minus the messy straining of the sauce as that would for sure require a tripod or assistant!

Browning the meat

Browning the meat

Sauteing the vegtables

Sauteing the veg

Adding the wine, the meat is cheap so be sure to use a decent bottle of wine.. If you wouldn't drink it don't cook with it!

Adding the wine, the meat is cheap so be sure to use a decent bottle of wine.. If you wouldn’t drink it don’t cook with it! The meat needs the flavor from the wine.

Sauce after slowing add the wine and paste. Take your time to build flavor.

Sauce after slowing add the wine and paste. Take your time to build flavor.

See you little ones in 4 hours!

See you little ones in 4 hours!

Plated and ready for a romantic dinner <3

Plated and ready for a romantic dinner at home

For more pork cheek recipes check out:

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