Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pork Cheeks braised in Absinthe

New favourite. Still learning how to make this properly.


  1. 4 trimmed pig’s cheeks;
  2. 50 ml Absinthe;
  3. 30 ml Good quality white wine vinegar;
  4. 5 tbsp olive oil;
  5. 1 leek, finely sliced;
  6. 2 carrots cubed;
  7. 2-3 sticks celery, chopped;
  8. 1 onion, chopped;
  9. 2 cloves garlic, chopped;
  10. 1 bay leaf;
  11. 2 sprigs thyme;
  12. 1 tbsp tomato purée;
  13. 2 tbsp honey
  14. 750ml chicken stock
  15. 125ml white wine;
  16. Freshly ground salt and pepper


  • Marinate the meat in 2 tbsp olive oil, the Absinthe, vinegar and salt and pepper for at least 4 hours before cooking. The Absinthe gives a very distinct taste that may not be to everyone’s liking and could be replaced with e.g. vermouth or some other liquor;
  • Preheat the oven to 170C;
  • Heat the oil in a casserole with a tight-fitting lid. Add the leek, celery, carrot, onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, then add the bay leaf, thyme, and tomato purée. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the honey and cook for a further 5 minutes to caramelise;
  • Add pig’s cheeks, stir well and cook for 3-4 minutes to coat and colour. Add the stock and wine. Bring to the boil, season, then cover and transfer to the preheated oven. Cook for 2 ½ - 3 hours;Remove from the oven, lift the cheeks from the stock and reserve. Strain the stock and place in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to the boil and allow the mixture to reduce in volume by half;
  • For an extra savoury sauce wiz the strained vegetables (less herbs) in a food processor until smooth and add back to sauce until desired consistency is achieved;

Serve with creamy mash or parsnip puree and your selection of vegetables. Last weekend this was the filling for the best pasta parcels I’ve ever had.

Skate Knobs with Crab Potatoes & Beurre Blance

I got the recipe for the crab potatoes from Santino Busciglio the chef at Mennula in Charlotte Street. The restaurant btw is highly recommended. They serve very simple but delicious Sicilian food that hits all the buttons as far as I am concerned.

Ingredients (for a starter for 4 triple everything for a main):

  1. 300 gr mealy potatoes e.g. King Edwards;
  2. Fresh preferably white crab meat;
  3. 2 spring onions;
  4. 3 tbsp best quality EVOO;
  5. 1 tbsp white wine balsamic;
  6. S&P to taste;
  7. 1 large skate knob per person;
  8. Beurre Blanc.


  • Bake the potatoes in their skins on a bed of coarse sea salt at about 160 to 180 depending on their size;
  • When potatoes are cooked through slice the potato in half and scoop out the flesh into a bowl;
  • Crush the potatoes with a fork (crush don’t mash you want the texture of potato) and the olive oil, sweet white balsamic vinegar, chopped spring onions, season with salt and finally the fresh crab meat. Do not over mix as it will turn in to crab glue.
  • Fry skate knobs in oil on a hot pan for about 1 min per side;
  • Form crab potatoes into a circular pile by pressing them through cake cutters, add skate knob on top, add about a table spoon of the beurre blance. Serve immediately.