Pork cheek with crispy ham hock bon bon, crushed swede and mustard apple compote

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Geoffrey Smeddle prepares a lavish pork cheek recipe with an attuned balance of flavours. Creamy, sweet swede nicely undercuts the richness of the pork, while the spiced apple compote elevates this satisfying dish.

First published in 2015




Braised pork cheeks

Ham hock bon bon

Spiced apple compote

Crushed swede




  • Deep fat fryer
  • Blender
  • Baking parchment
  • Squeezy bottle
  • Fine strainer


Use a sharp paring knife to remove all the sinew from the pork cheek, place onto a small tray

In a small bowl, combine the garlic, spices, thyme, rosemary and olive oil. Add a generous pinch of salt and mix together. Pour the mix over the pig cheeks and rub to coat evenly. Place in the fridge and allow to marinate

To cook the ham hock, place into a suitable pot and cover with water. Add the carrot, onion, garlic, herbs and spices. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until the meat comes away from the bone, approximately 1 hour
Remove the ham hock from the pot and allow to cool. While still warm, flake off the meat with your hands and chop finely
Next, place a large heavy based pan over a medium heat. Add enough vegetable oil to coat the base of the pan, sweat off the shallots, carrots and fennel until soft and lightly golden
Add the brandy and white wine and reduce by half. Then, add the fish sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, chicken stock, lemongrass and ginger. Bring to the boil, reduce to a gentle simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover with cling film and allow to cool
Remove the pork cheeks from the fridge and add to the braising liquor. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until tender, approximately 1 hour. Once ready, the cheeks will hold their shape, but easily fall apart when cut into with a knife
Pass the liquid through a fine strainer until very salty. Add a little of the reduction and the mustard to the chopped ham hock to bind together

Form into small, walnut-size balls, place on to a tray and leave to firm up in the fridge for 30 minutes. Remove from the fridge and prepare 3 bowls for coating, seasoning the flour with salt

  • 2 eggs
  • 80g of Panko breadcrumbs (1)
  • 50g of flour
  • salt

Evenly coat each bon bon in flour, egg and then breadcrumbs. Repeat the egg and breadcrumb step to add an extra coating

For the crackling, preheat the oven to 180˚C/gas mark 4. Cut the pig's skin into 1/2cm strips and place onto a lined baking tray, cover with another piece of baking parchment
Use a second tray of the same size, to place on top and press the skin down gently. Roast in the oven for 20-30 mintues, or until crispy. Remove, season with salt and keep in a warm place until ready to serve
For the compote, place all the ingredients, except for the mustard and butter, into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook until all the liquid has been reduced and absorbed and the apples are soft
Transfer to a blender, add the mustard, a small knob of butter and process until very smooth. Season to taste with salt and store in a squeeze bottle
For the swede, gently boil in salted water until firm, but cooked. Drain, add the butter and mustard and mash gently with a fork. Stir through the chopped herbs and season to taste with salt

Before serving, reheat the cheeks in the cooking liquor, warm the swedes and drop the bon bon's into a deep fat fryer at 190˚C for 2 minutes until golden brown

  • vegetable oil

Squirt a circle of the compote into the middle of each plate and drag the bottle around to form a tail shape, arrange the hot bon bons on top. Arrange a small amount of the hot swede opposite and lay each cheek on top. Finish with the crackling, a shaving of baby carrot and pea shoots. Serve immediately

First published in 2015

Geoffrey Smeddle, proprietor and chef of The Peat Inn in Fife, started his career working for Herbert Berger at The Café Royal and for Christopher Galvin in London. He then sealed his reputation as one of Scotland’s top chefs by opening Terence Conran's Etain, in Glasgow.

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