Although time-consuming due to the long cooking time, you will feel richly rewarded once you let your fork and knife (or spoon, rather) sink into the butter-soft meat and get to enjoy its wonderful taste which is so beautifully underlined by the distinct, yet not over-powering flavoring coming from the sherry, mountain pepper and just a dash of Pimentón de la Vera.
It’s a fantastic tapas or starter dish but can as well be served as a main.
Ingredients (for 4 starter portions or 2 mains):
- 4 organic (preferably Iberian or Duroc) pork cheeks (ca. 100 grams each)
- fleur de sel
- freshly ground mountain pepper (Tasmanian pepperberry)
- 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil (for frying)
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 50 grams of lardons
- 1/4 teaspoon of Pimentón de la Vera (hot)
- 1/4 teaspoon of cumin
- 1 garlic clove, whole
- ca. 100 ml of sherry (fino)
- 200 ml of beef stock
- 200 ml of water
- For decoration: a few leaves of roughly chopped parsley, 1/2 tablespoon of sliced almonds
- Rub the pork cheeks with fleur de sel and mountain pepper on both sides. Set aside.
- Fry the onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat until soft (but not brown). Remove and set aside.
- In the same frying pan, gently fry the lardons until they release the fat.
- Increase the temperature and sear the pork cheeks for 1.5 minutes from each side, then remove and set aside.
- Add the onion, the spices and the garlic and fry for 1 minute, then deglaze with the sherry.
- Immediately add the pork cheeks.
- Let the sherry reduce to 1/2, then add the beef stock and water.
- Cover and let simmer on low heat for approximately 2 hours.
- Serve with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the liquid (the remainder of which makes an excellent stock) and sprinkled with parsley and sliced almonds.