Pig’s Cheeks, Spanish style

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Simple, delicious, filling, flavoursome and bloody good value; are these points sufficient to have you go out and explore those curious pork cuts? I hope so. Four cheeks cost me a total of €8, or €2 each. Mind you, the real work happens before you begin cooking.

Pig’s cheek comes with a lot of baggage and to get to the treasure, the tiny, fillet fine, cheeks, you need a sharp filleting knife. Once you’ve trimmed off all the fat and skin, cut the remaining cheek meat in half, flatten and dust with seasoned flour.

On the side, you’ll need one, finely sliced, red onion and at least two cloves of garlic gently crushed.

Heat some olive oil in a pan. Add the finely sliced, red onion and cook until soft and slightly carmelised. Put aside and reserve.

Put a little more oil in the pan, if needed, then add the cheeks, dusted with seasoned flour and allow to brown.

Now add a glass of medium dry sherry, a tablespoon of smoked paprika, a spoon of cumin powder and the garlic. Mix everything to combine the flavours and then add a half pint of stock (chicken or beef) and stir, before placing in a medium hot oven (180º) and cooking, slowly, for  90 to 120 minutes

At this point, just as you’re putting the dish in the oven, I added some new potatoes, cut in quarters, and chunks of fresh, baby carrots.

Prepare some almond flakes by dry roasting in a pan until brown and crispy. Finely chop some parsley.

Some people like to serve this dish with buttery, mashed potato. I like the potatoes braised with the meat, sauce and carrots. You could use rice, too.

When serving, sprinkle the toasted almonds and parsley over the dish. The pig’s cheeks will melt in your mouth and a nice glass of rioja will help it on its way, in style.IMG_3698

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