CONFIT PIGS CHEEKS
Easily one of my favourite things to make for several reasons. Not only is it a fairly cheap cut to buy, but it’s so easy to cook it’s basically cheating. On top of this it can be eaten hot or cold, keeps for forever (if you do it right…) AND you can use the surrounding fat to cook with to make anything you like from roast potatoes or rolling through freshly cooked pasta in place of olive oil. The cheeks themselves are wonderful just on toast, but I tend to use them as an ingredient to make a quick-fire ragu.
Take around 10 pork cheeks (minus the jowl, you’re looking for just the red, round, hockey puck sized piece of meat from within the jowl) and cover them salt that has been mixed with some crushed juniper berries, garlic and rosemary. Leave them to cure over night in the fridge. The next day wash them off and cover with some kind of fat. You can use any thing you like really, olive oil, goose fat, beef tallow. If you decide to use butter that’s fine, just make sure that it has been clarified as the milk solids in butter will not keep as indefinitely and may also burn in the cooking.
Place the cheeks in a narrow tall pot and cover with you chosen fat. Place the pot on a gentle heat and bring it to a heat where you can see just the occasional bubble rise to the surface. For the technically minded you’re looking for around 70 degrees celcius. Leave at this heat to cook for about 1.5 hours. At the end of cooking use a slotted spoon to pull the cheeks out of the fat and place into a mason jar or some other heat proof holding vessel. Proceed to cover them with the left over fat to cover them. After this has cooled, place in the fridge and use as required.
Hope you enjoy them half as much as I do!