Unusual cuts of meat have been popular for a while, probably a lot thanks to Fergus Henderson, and it is almost comical that we now pay lots of money for what used to be peasant food for our grandparent’s generation.
To me it seems like the general public only eat chicken breats, salmon fillets and beef mince. There are so much more to fish, meat and poultry than that, and as much as I enjoy different cuts for the variety I also like to buy them because they are a lot cheaper than i.e. chicken breasts.
Fresh food is expensive, but with cheaper, unusal cuts of meat you can get a wonderful tasting meal if you just learn how to cook them. Most unusual cuts are tougher but full of flavour and therefore need a slowcooking approach.
My paternal grandmother for example, cooked and ate pig’s trotters quite a lot, because it was cheap and tasty. Now I eat pig’s trotters in Michelin starred restaurants, which is nice, but a bit twisted, you must admit.
One increasingly popular cheap cut of pork is the cheeks, and I bought some in Waitrose for £2.99 a kilo. I used google to do some research on how to best cook them and found that the most common way was a confit.
The day before I made the confit, then refridgerated the pork cheeks over night, sliced them in thin slices the next day and fried them until crispy. Together with roasted vegetables and potatoes and a sauce with sage and garlic, this was a delicious yet cheap meal for two.
The pork cheeks were absolutely lovely and I will definitely cook it again soon. At the dinner table we started thinking about how else to serve it. Maybe as a starter with a salad, or with a mushroom creme, or perhaps in an indulgent sandwich? The sky is the limit!
500 g pork cheeks
300-400 ml goose or duck fat
butter and olive oil for frying
salt & pepper
1 large parsnip
1 red bell pepper
salt och pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
1 small garlic clove, pressed
100 ml creme fraiche
200 ml single cream
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tbsp Heinz chilli sauce or ketchup alt. a pinch of brown sugar
concentrated beef stock
salt & pepper
Place the cheeks in an ovenproof dish and cover with the fat. Place in 125C oven for 2-3 hours until the meat has browned and is tender. Take the meat out of the tray and place on a plate. Refrigerate.
Peel the potatoes and parsnip and cut into wedges. Place in a roasting tray. Slice the courgette, cut the peppers into large(ish) pieces and place in the tray. Add olive oil and Italian herbs, salt and pepper. Bake in 200C for 30-40 mins, stirring occasionally.
When the vegetables are almost cooked, start making the sauce. Heat up some olive oil in a non-stick sauce pan, on medium heat. Fry the sage and garlic for a minute or so. Add cream, creme fraiche, mustard, chilli sauce and soy. Bring to the boil and season to taste with salt and pepper and stock. Colour the sauce light brown and let it thicken.
Slice the cold cheeks into 2-3 mm thick slices. Heat up butter and olive oil on high heat in a frying pan and fry the slices until crispy. Serve with the sauce and vegetables and marvel over how wonderful this is.