Pork cheeks with polenta

4
4 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 800g of pork cheeks, trimmed of excess sinew and fat
  • 1 large onion, roughly diced
  • 1 large carrot, roughly diced
  • 1 celery stick, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tbsp of oregano, chopped
  • 500ml of chicken stock
  • 200ml of passata
  • 200ml of red wine
  • 300g of polenta
  • 150g of Parmesan, finely grated
  • 1l vegetable stock
  • 25g of butter
  • 70g of rocket, washed and rinsed
  • 100g of bacon lardons, unsmoked
  • 100g of chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • rapeseed oil, for frying
  • 1 lemon, zest only
  • 1 tbsp of parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • salt
  • pepper

Method

1
First heat your oven to 140C. Then take a casserole dish that comes with a lid and place on the hob over a high heat. Add a splash of oil, lightly season the pork cheeks with salt and pepper and quickly brown them all over. You may have to do this in two batches. Put the cheeks to one side on a plate and turn the heat down to medium. Add some more oil and then throw in the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and oregano, cover and sweat for 10 minutes until everything is soft. Add the red wine and cook off the alcohol for about 5 minutes, then place the cheeks back on top of the vegetables. Pour the chicken stock over the top, along with the passata. Bring up to the boil and then cover and put the casserole in the oven. Cook for 3 to 4 hours, checking every now and then on the cheeks, they should be very soft and starting to fall apart when done
2
Remove the pork cheeks from the sauce, cover and keep in a warm place, then strain the remaining liquid into a saucepan using a sieve or chinois. Using the back of a spoon, push as much sauce out as possible. When done, place the saucepan on the hob and reduce by half
3
Cook your polenta by bring the light vegetable stock to the boil and then add the maize flour, stirring all the while, until it thickens. The regular stuff in the supermarket takes about 8-10 minutes and about 5 minutes in, you need to add the Parmesan cheese and continue stirring. Season with pepper and finishing off with a knob of butter doesn’t hurt either
4
For the bacon and mushrooms, simply fry them off in a pan with a small dash of oil until they crisp up and mix up the lemon zest, parsley and garlic in a small bowl for the gremolata. And the wet rocket really just needs a very quick flash in a pan over the hob for it to shrink down, say 30 seconds. Don’t overcook it, otherwise it will turn slimey
5
Bring everything together by spooning a generous amount of polenta in the centre of each plate (warmed) and then take two or three cheeks, sliced on the diagonal and arrange on top. Then drizzle a nice ladle of rich sauce over the top, along with the mushroom and bacon. And finish with a healthy scattering of gremolata across the plate