Tuesday 19 January 2010

Cheeky Pig Wellington

After almost tripping over myself in excitement when I first cooked pigs cheeks in a bourbon and mustard glaze, I’ve been gagging to cook with them again. I love their sweet tenderness and strong piggy taste. And the fact that they cost 14 pence each doesn’t hurt either!

Whenever I see them in Waitrose with the little green “Forgotten Cuts” flag in them I always buy the lot. Sorry. I just can’t help myself. This is probably why you rarely find them. It’s because a few annoying gits like me always gazump them.

A dozen or so have been in Cowie’s parents’s freezer for a few months now. And with a whole weekend to play with I decided to do something special with them. Cowie and I have been discussing how to cook them so much that Cowie has been plagued by bad dreams about being attacked by evil cheekless pigs! So when I flipped through a food magazine and saw a recipe for “Beef Wellington” the penny dropped and I started sketching out my recipe. I decided to switch the mushrooms in the traditional duxelle for apricots and then bolster it up with some pig’s liver pate. See below for the recipe. I then did a quick google and didn’t get any direct hits – does that mean this recipe is a world first?

Wash and pat dry you pigs’ cheeks. Then season them generously with salt and pepper before colouring them in a hot pan. Try to avoid smoking your girlfriend’s parents’ kitchen out at midnight like I did. Then sling them into a roasting dish along with a few sage leaves and whatever booze you have to hand. I used a glass of Argentine Pinot Noir. Then put cover with foil and cook very, very slowly. I put them in the top left oven of the Aga which is normally used for plate warming and let them bubble away overnight. But if you haven’t got an Aga and are worried about leaving the oven on overnight then slow cook them for 3 or 4 hours on a very low setting.

Pig cheeks in tray

Pig cheeks after cooking

Allow the pigs cheeks to cool and separate them from the juices.

Livery mix

Reduce the liquid to a syrup and add a handful of chopped dried apricots. This will become a sticky brown goo that will form the basis of the “duxelle”. Add 100 grams of pork liver pate to the brown goo and mix so that it becomes a paste. Season to taste.

Pig cheek being wrapped

Then lay a piece of cling film on a chopping board or work surface and line it with three overlapping slices of pancetta. Smear them with the “duxelle” and plop a pigs cheek in the middle. Then wrap them up into smart little parcels.

Pig cheek parcel solo

I then used an extra rasher of pancetta to hold it all together laterally.

Pig cheek parcels ready

Put these in the fridge and chill until you get around to rolling the pastry which must be done at the last possible moment to avoid soggyness.

Pig cheek wellington ready for baking

With 40 minutes to go before you want to eat them, roll out you puff pastry and roll it around the parcels. Place on a greased baking tray and cook in a hot oven until the pastry has browned which will take around 20 minutes.

Pig cheek wellingtons ta dar

Pig cheek wellington side

Pig cheek wellington cross section 2

Serve to impressed guests with mashed potato, broccoli and mustard. The meat was more tender than anything I've ever eaten and the pastry was puffy and crisp. The apricot duxelle gave the pork a playful fruitiness that helped to take your mind off the richness of the pate and unctuous meat.

Who needs fillet of beef that costs and arm and a leg when you can create something that tastes much better and costs a pittance? If beef short ribs were the trendy cheap cut of 2007, lamb shanks in 2008 and pork belly in 2009, then I reckon 2010 is the year of the pig cheek.


George@CulinaryTravels said...

I love pig cheeks, they're such an underrated cut of meat.

The idea of using them in a 'Wellington' is fabulous.

Hollow Legs said...

Once again, fantastic idea. I have never cooked with pig cheeks, and this must be rectified!

Sharmila said...

These look seriously fabulous. I have also taken to snapping up all the pigs cheeks I find at the butchers counter in the Waitrose in the bottom of John Lewis on Oxford St, along with the ox cheeks when I see them (they make the most wonderful stew!).

You can also get eight lambs kidneys for just over £1. Brilliant.

Ollie said...

Oh. My. God. They look amazing. I've never seen pig's cheeks in my local Waitrose - they're probably shipping them south to you!

eatmynels said...

Good work, these are pretty pimp way to deal with cheeks!!

Kavey said...

They look SMASHING! :)

Manggy said...

Uh, that is AWESOME.

And as far as I know, completely original. Bravo!

Kerri said...

This just seems so obvious now you've said it, like a classic dish that's been around for ever. If I ever manage to find pig cheeks then I'm definitely going to give this a go. Genius!

Browners said...

@George - Glad to find another lover of the cheek. Where do you get yours?

@Lizzie - Thanks. You must give them a go. You won't regret it.

@Sharmila - I find it amazing how cheap they are. 8 kidneys for a quid is madness. My next mission is to conquer the ox cheek. Really looking forward to it.

@Olli - If you have a butchers in the Marylebone Waitrose they often have them. Or maybe they won't now. Whoops.

@eatmynels - Thanks. Pimp pigs cheeks has a ring to it.

@Kavey -Thanks.

@Manggy - Thanks. I think they are. But all ideas borrow from each other.

@Kerri - Thanks. I'm very keen to hear how you get on. The variations are almost endless. And because they are so cheap you can try them lots of different ways.

Unknown said...

Brilliant love it - such a great idea - and now I know why there are no pig cheeks in my waitrose!

Anonymous said...

These look amazing.

Hard to believe that pigs cheeks are so inexpensive. Will have to put a Sunday aside to give something like this a go soon.

Caitlin @ Roaming Tales said...

This is seriously impressive, Jonathan. Well done! Can I come over for dinner when I'm next in London?

Anonymous said...
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Helen said...

14p! 14p! oh my God let's all start buying them! They might go up in price to 20p though...

A fantastic idea. I love the apricots in there. I often put chopped soaked apricots in my sausage rolls.

Browners said...

@Gourmet Chick - I'm hoping Waitrose will redouble their efforts and supply pigs cheeks to the masses.

@Fullbeard - Rest assured it will be a Sunday well spent. Enjoyed the old school wall calendar on your blog and those stupendous Brick Lane Bagels.

@Caitlin @ Roaming Tales - Of course. Glad you liked them.

@Helen - Even if they double in price we'll be safe. All hail the humble pig cheek.

Unknown said...

what a delicious it is! but maybe you would like to see the great parcel


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