Hey there sweet cheeks.
Rich, sticky, unctuous, thrifty. Sous vide pork cheeks are a thing of absolute delight.
I’ve tried them with a few different time and temperature combinations, but 62°C nfor 48 hours wins hands down. And the only difficulty you’ll have in making these is waiting for them to come out of the magical hot water box.
This recipe is inspired by a meal I ate this summer in Cornwall. At 30°C St Ives was glorious, and wandering around galleries admiring the art and ceramics while wearing shorts I felt very at home. Being back in St Ives for the day meant Porthminster Restaurant was number 1 on the lunch list, having been blown away by the food there a few years before.
We arrived and sat overlooking the sea on the verandah, drinking gin and tonic made with juniper syrup (friends, expect a homemade version as a Christmas present this year it was that good) and placed our order. Naturally we ordered a load of seafood, but the sticky pork cheek stood out on the menu and just had to be tried.
The nugget of pork that is the cheek is a delight to eat. Soft, yielding and melting into the sticky, shiny Asian style sauce it arrived in, it had me moaning in a most unladylike fashion at the table. I had no idea how it was cooked, but decided it would be the perfect meat cut for my sous vide from SousVideTools.com when I got home.
Lightly dusted in my Chinese seasoning blend which is made with ingredients including star anise, ginger, fennel and Szechuan pepper, the cheeks become warm and aromatic, needing only to be finished in the glaze that takes just a few minutes to prepare.
They’re so easy you can cook them ahead and eat them post work after heating through in the sauce, but also impressive enough that you could wheel them out for a dinner party for your food loving friends. And when a kilo of cheeks costs around a tenner, they’ve got to be worth a punt.
For the pork
- 6 trimmed pigs cheeks — mine were from the amazing guys at Udale Speciality Foods, who’ll trim them for you and deliver straight to your door
- 3 tbsp my Chinese seasoning blend, or a Chinese 5 spice powder
- 3 tbsp runny honey
- 3 tbsp mirin
- 5 tbsp light soy
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 thumb sized piece ginger, finely minced/grated
- 1 clove peeled garlic, finely minced/grated
- Pak choi in oyster sauce infused with ginger and garlic
- Egg fried jasmine rice
- Finely chopped red chilli and spring onion
- Preheat tour sous vide to 62°C.
- Lightly dust each cheek in my Chinese blend and vac seal in pouches on a hard vacuum.
- Place into the sous vide for 48 hours, then chill down as usual.
- When you’re ready to eat, preheat your oven to 160°C.
- Remove the cheeks from the pouches and place into a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes — draining off the liquid as the gelatinous liquor that collects around the cheeks melts in the oven.
- Into a saucepan place all the glaze ingredients and cook on a medium heat for around 10 minutes.
- Remove the cheeks from the oven and pop into the glaze for 3 to 5 minutes, gently turning them over in the glaze so they’re covered and cooked through.
- Serve with egg fried jasmine rice and your favourite Chinese greens, I used pak choi here but broccoli works really well too.