Yes, I know technically the 24th of February was a Saturday, but I can hardly call this #FoodySaturday now, can I? It just doesn’t roll off the tongue in the same way. And anyway, this week was a glitch in the system due to AlphaMale’s Friday night out.
I have to say at this point, that I am quite reticent about blogging this particular recipe. Pork cheeks are extremely cheap and at the moment, extremely non-vogue. I am fully convinced as soon as the general public become more aware of them the price will go the same way as that of lamb shanks: rapidly upwards. However, as you are my friends, I shall let you in on my little secret. Just keep it under your hats, ok?
On the menu this week:
Vegetable Spring Rolls ; Braised Pork Cheeks with Mustard Crushed New Potatoes; Tarte Tatin
VEGETABLE SPRING ROLLS
These are very similar to last week’s vegetable samosas, in that they are not deep fried, instead they are baked in the oven. The filling was left over from the last batch I made, so I defrosted it and bought a new packet of filo pastry to use. Unfortunately the filling made the pastry slightly soggy and these needed a double blast in the oven to crisp them up. Next time I will drain the defrosted filling in a sieve to remove any excess moisture. I always end up with a different number of rolls, depending on the size of the vegetables I use, and how many sheets of filo I manage to mess up. I generally make as many as I can out of the mixture and freeze any leftovers, crisping them up in the oven when required.
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
1 small courgette, coarsely grated
150g bean sprouts
220g can water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped
220g can bamboo shoots, drained and coarsely chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp dry sherry
a packet of filo pastry sheets, quartered
sweet chilli dipping sauce for serving
Heat 1 tbsp of the vegetable oil with the sesame oil in a large frying pan over a moderate heat.
Add the spring onions with the grated carrots and courgette. Stir well to mix. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes.
Stir in the other vegetables and cook uncovered for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the soy sauce and sherry and season to taste. Set aside to cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas 5. Lay a strip of pastry lengthways on the work surface and place 1 heaped tbsp of the filling along the end of the strip, but not quite up to the edge. Start to roll the pastry gently towards you, folding in the long edges to contain the filling. Continue to roll to the end, lightly oil to seal. Place seam side down on a lined baking tray and brush with oil. Repeat with the remaining pastry strips and filling.
Bake the rolls for 12–15 minutes until golden and crisp. Transfer to a wire rack and allow the rolls to cool slightly before serving.
BRAISED PORK CHEEKS WITH MUSTARD CRUSHED NEW POTATOES
Pigs come in a variety of sizes and this is reflected in the differing size of their cheeks. I generally allow two for myself and three for AlphaMale, who has a Man-Size appetite. Don’t be fooled by their size, they are rich little suckers. The flavour is extremely intense, hence the apple, and in this case, the sweet cabbage, to cut through the meatiness. They are incredibly tough little things though, and require long, slow braising to reduce them to tenderness.
2-3 pork cheeks per person, trimmed of fat
1 small red onion, finely sliced
1tbs olive oil
a large knob of butter
500ml dry cider
3 large sage leaves
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
one eating apple, peeled, cored & cut into rings
butter for frying
200g new potatoes
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 160C. Sautée the sliced onion gently in the olive oil and butter until softened- I use my Le Creuset casserole dish, so the whole lot can just go straight into the oven. Add the pork cheeks and brown. Add the cider, season and bring to the boil. Place in the preheated oven for 70 minutes, turning and basting with the cider regularly to prevent the tops drying out. Add the sage leaves and return to the oven for a further 20 minutes.Remove from the casserole and rest for 10 minutes.
Return the pan to the hob and heat rapidly, stirring,until the liquid reduces slightly.
Melt the butter in a small frying pan. Add the apple slices and fry gently until slightly softened and caramelised.
Mustard crushed new potatoes:Boil the new potatoes in a pan of salted water until cooked. Drain and add the olive oil, wholegrain mustard and seasoning. Crush gently with a masher until broken, but not mashed completely. Stir to mix.
Serve the pork with a spoonful of the sauce over the top.
I served the potatoes on a bed of spiced red cabbage that I found lurking in the freezer, and added steamed brocolli spears – more for colour than for anything else. I have also invested in some chef’s rings for serving, which means I can now start to build nice little towers of food. I had intended to balance the meat on top of the potato tower, but chickened out at the last minute!
Once again, I am made use of my mini loose-bottomed flan tins, and made individual tarts. They are a bit fiddly, so if you prefer a fuss-free life, just use a shallow cake tin.
2oz golden caster sugar
2oz unsalted butter
2-3 eating apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
zest of a whole lemon, and juice of half
a packet of puff pastry, rolled out to about 1/2 cm thickness
Preheat the oven to 200c. Line the tins with buttered grease-proof paper.
Melt the butter and sugar together over a low heat, stirring constantly. Bring to a slow boil and continue to cook for 4-5 minutes until the mixture has become sticky and caramel-like. Don’t worry if the sugar feels a bit crunchy, it just means it has overcooked slightly. It won’t have any adverse outcome on the finished dessert.
Pour the caramel mixture into the base of the prepared tins. Toss the apple slices with the lemon zest. Carefully arrange
the slices of apple in the tin. The first layer is the most important – after that nothing will show, so just fill the spaces up. Drizzle over the lemon juice.
Cut the pastry slightly bigger than the base of the tin and place it centrally over the apple slices. Carefully – I use a teaspoon handle to assist – tuck the edges of the pastry down the inside of the tin, as far down as possible.
Pop the tin into the oven on a baking tray to catch any caramel that might boil over.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until crisp and golden.
Leave in the tin until ready to serve, otherwise the pastry will go soggy. Either serve warm, or cold. When ready to serve, simply place a plate over the base of the tin and quickly turn the whole lot over. Remove the tin and carefully peel off the lining paper. Et voila!