Braised Pig Cheek with Polenta and Gremolata

Serves: 6
Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 3 hours

    What you need

    Ingredients

    • 12
      pig cheeks, about 1.2kg/2lb 12oz total weight
    • 2 tbsp
      (all-purpose) flour
    • 1
      onion, peeled and finely chopped
    • 1 stick of
      celery, finely chopped
    • 2
      garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
    • bottle of
      red wine
    • 2 tbsp
      tomato purée (tomato paste)
    • 300 ml/10fl oz/1¼ cups
      water
    • 1.2 litres/2 pints/5 cups
      water (For the polenta)
    • 300 g/10½oz/2½ cups
      polenta (cornmeal) (For the polenta)
    • 50 g/1¾oz/4 tbsp
      butter (For the polenta)
    • 1
      garlic clove, peeled and very finely chopped (For the gremolata)
    • flat-leaf parsley (For the gremolata)
    • zest of 1 lemon (For the gremolata)
    • salt and pepper
    • olive oil

    Instructions

    • 1Dry the cheeks thoroughly, then toss them in the flour along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Heat a little oil in a frying pan over a high heat and brown the cheeks all over in batches. Remove to a large ovenproof pan.
    • 2Add a little more oil to the frying pan if necessary, and over a medium heat soften the onion, celery and garlic, stirring regularly. Add to the cheeks.
    • 3Deglaze the frying pan with a slosh of red wine and stir to dislodge any bits of caramelized pig, then add this all to the ovenproof pan, along with the rest of the wine, tomato purée and water. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook over a low heat for 2 hours, or in the oven at 160°C/325°F/Gas mark 3.
    • 4To make the gremolata, finely chop the parsley and mix with the lemon zest and garlic.
    • 5For the polenta, bring the water to a boil with a good pinch of salt and slowly pour in the polenta, whisking continuously to avoid lumps.
    • 6Wear your sleeves pulled down – this stuff spits. Turn the heat right down and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally. If the polenta looks too dry, just add a splash of hot water. Beat in the butter and a twist of pepper.
    • 7Taste the polenta for seasoning and add a pinch more salt if necessary.

    Serving tips

    Serve with the pig cheeks and a sprinkling of gremolata.

    Pairing suggestion: Martell VSOP Cognac

    “I love serving pig cheeks to friends. They have invariably never tried them before, and react with a certain amount of trepidation before surrendering to their soft, piggy perfection. Supermarkets seem to be stocking them increasingly, though no doubt a butcher would be delighted to get some in for you. Serve with something green and simple.”

    James Ramsden

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