Ibérico Pig’s Cheeks in White Wine

Pig's cheeks in white wine
Creamy Brussels sprouts fit nicely with the pig’s cheeks, because of the sweetness of the dates. Notice how tender the meat becomes during low-and-slow cooking.

One of the most underappreciated cuts of pork are the cheeks. They are very tasty, but require low-and-slow cooking. They are also cheap to buy, but may be hard to get. Our local butcher in Los Boliches can provide any cut we want, but sometimes they have to be pre-ordered a few days in advance. Same goes to any special cuts such as oxtail.

Pig’s cheeks, or carrialladas de Ibérico, are widely available in restaurants in Andalucia. They are always tender and tasty. However, as we were browsing through Spanish blogs and recipes for the cheeks, the cooking time was not what we expected. In many recipes cooking time was only about an hour. That’s not how you do a tender pig’s cheeks! Finally we came up with a recipe that was originally published in a Finnish blog called Sivumaku. 3-6 hour cooking time sounds about right, so we decided to go give it a try.

 Ingredients for Ibérico Pig’s Cheeks for 4 Servings

  • 8 pig’s cheeks – carrialladas de Ibérico
  • a bottle of white wine – vino blanco
  • 1 clove of garlic – diente de ajo
  • 4 sprigs of thyme – ramitas de tomillo
  • olive oil – aceite de oliva
  • sea salt – sal marina
  • ground black pepper – pimienta negra

Clean the cheeks. There usually are some skin, fat or membranes which need to be removed.  Heat the oven to 120 ºC (250 ºF). Place a large Dutch oven first on the stove on high heat. Put a splash of olive oil on to bottom along with garlic. Season the cheeks with salt and pepper and brown them (in batches, if needed) in the oil with the thyme sprigs. Leave the cheeks in the Dutch oven and pour the white wine on top. Cover with lid and place in the oven for 3-6 hours. Baste the cheeks with broth and add wine during the cooking, if needed.

Ingredients for Creamy Brussels Sprouts for 4 Servings

  • 1/2 kg (20 oz) of Brussels sprouts – coles de Bruselas
  • handful of dates – dátils
  • 1/2 litre of double cream – nata cocina
  • 1 tablespoon of grated ginger – jengibre
  • sea salt – sal marina
  • ground black pepper – pimienta negra

Remove loose or damaged leaves from the sprouts and trim the bases as well. Put water and some salt in a sauce pan and bring it to boil. Put the sprouts in and boil for about 5 minutes until soft. Drain the water, put rest of the ingredients on the sauce pan and let them simmer slowly for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

¡Buen provecho!

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