Pork cheeks are an unknown or unusual cut of pork among many. What many people don’t know is that they are really tasty. In addition, they are also relatively cheap.
Pork cheeks do a lot of work which makes them tough. But when they are cooked slowly, they become so tender that they almost fall apart which makes them ideal for stews.
what are pork cheeks?
Pork cheeks are heavily veined meat with nerves and tendons that contain a lot of collagen. The collagen ensures that the muscles are held together closely. When the pork cheeks are slowly cooked (low & slow), the collagen is dissolved into gelatin. The meat fibers shrink and release juices. This ensures that the meat becomes super tender.
Pork cheeks are quite small. Cook about two pork cheeks per person.
In this recipe we used a kamado (Big Green Egg), but you can, of course, also make the dish without a barbecue. If you do so, then, at step 2, you place the cast iron pan on the stove over medium heat. At step 4, turn it back to low heat and let it simmer on the stove for two hours. Do this with the lid off.
In this recipe, we will use Trappist beer, but you can also use another dark beer.
Stewed pork cheeks in Trappist beer with syrupy red cabbage
- 500 gr pork cheeks
for the marinade
- 1 tbsp syrup
- 2 tbsp vinegar
- 2 tbsp dark beer Trappist
- 1 tsp mustard
for the stew
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic crushed
- 3 tomatoes cut into pieces
- 6 sprigs of thyme
- 1 clove
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp oil
for the red cabbage
- 450 gr red cabbage cut in thin strips
- 125 gr sultanas
- 110 grams of butter
- 125 ml balsamic vinegar
- 100 gr cane sugar dark
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 star anise
- a handful of apple wood chips
- Place the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl and mix them well.
- Place the pork cheeks in a baking dish and sprinkle them generously with salt and pepper. Add the marinade and massage the mixture into the meat. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and let the pork cheeks marinate for at least 3 hours.
- The barbecue
- Prepare the barbecue for direct grilling. Maintain a working temperature of 200 °C. Place the wood chips in a bowl of water and let them soak for 10 minutes. Then let them drain for a while.
- Heat the butter and oil in a cast iron frying pan on the barbecue. Place the meat in the pan and sear it on all sides until it turns brown.
- Meanwhile, finely chop the tomatoes, onions and garlic. Add these ingredients when the meat turns golden brown and fry them for 4 minutes.
- Then add the rest of the beer. Sprinkle the wood chips on the coals, then move the pan to the indirect section of the grill. Maintain a temperature of about 150 °C. Add the thyme and cloves and simmer the meat for two hours without a lid. The meat is ready when it almost falls apart.
- Red cabbage
- Put the sultanas in a bowl and add boiled water. Soak the raisins for half an hour and then drain them.
- Cut the red cabbage into quarters and then into long thin strips. Then rinse them in a colander.
- Melt butter in another cast iron pan over medium heat. If your only cast iron pan is already being used for the stew, use a pan with a thick bottom. Add the red cabbage and stir it through the melted butter. Then add the vinegar, sugar and tablespoons of water.
- Add the cinnamon stick, star anise and raisins. Bring the whole thing to a boil over high heat. Then let it simmer on low heat for 50 minutes without a lid.
- Remove the cinnamon stick and star anise. Add salt and pepper to taste.