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Valentine's Main: Pork Cheek Pappardelle

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Valentine's Main: Pork Cheek Pappardelle

Styling by Leiths alumna Jess Mcintosh, Photograhy by Will Richards

The marinading of the meat gives this indulgent, hearty main an incredible depth of flavour which will leave you feeling wonderfully satisfied. To save time, you can use shop-bought fresh or dry pappardelle. Or if you're feeling ambitious and you want to go the extra mile for your loved one(s), you can opt to make your own pasta.

Follow our step by step guides here:
How to make your own pappardelle by hand
How to make your own pappardelle by machine


Leiths recommended wine pairings for this dish:

Great value: Sainsbury's Zweigelt, Taste the Difference, Niederösterreich, Austria (£9 - Sainsbury's)

Off the beaten track: Hochar, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon 2017 (£13.50 - The Wine Society)

Classic & premium: Bersano Barolo Riserva DOCG, Piemont, Italy 2011 (£31 - Waitrose)


Valentine's starter (Endive, Pear, Goats Cheese and Pecan Salad)
Valentine's dessert (Chocolate Fondants)


This recipe needs to be started 12 hours in advance of cooking, or it can be made ahead of time and be stored or frozen.

Ingredients

Serves 4


500g / 1lb Pork Cheeks (or 2/3 per person), another stewing cut could be used

Marinade
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ tsp fennel seeds, crushed
½ tsp juniper berries, crushed
2 onions, sliced
150ml / ¼ pint Chianti
1 bouquet garni (4 parsley stalks, bay leaf, 2 sprigs thyme)

For assembly
55g / 2oz plain flour
2-4 tbsp olive oil for frying
100ml water
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp tomato paste
150ml / ¼ pt good quality brown chicken stock
10 strands saffron, infused in 2 tbsp hot water (optional)
400g / 1 tin chopped tomatoes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve
200g / 10oz fresh or dried pappardelle pasta
50g parmesan cheese shavings

Crumb (optional)
25g Panko bread crumbs, or blitz the ends of left over sour dough or ciabatta
1 tbsp chopped parsley
Zest of ½ lemon
10g melted butter
Salt and pepper

Instructions

12 hours prior to cooking (20 mins prep time)

  1. Prepare the cheeks by removing any thick looking sinew (silvery thick film) from the surface of the cheeks using a small sharp knife. Don’t cut the cheeks into smaller pieces, keep them whole.
  2. Place the marinade ingredients in a large bowl (garlic, fennel seeds, juniper, onions, wine and bouquet garni), add the prepared cheeks, toss well, cover the bowl with clingfilm.
  3. Place in the fridge, ideally for 12 hours to marinate.
  4. Strain and reserve the juices from the marinade, and set aside the onions and bouquet garni separately. Pick out and reserve the meat.

To assemble and cook (30 mins assembly, 2-3 hours cooking time)

  1. Dry the meat well on absorbent kitchen paper.
  2. Season the meat with salt and pepper before coating lightly in the plain flour.
  3. Tap off any excess flour.
  4. Heat 1-2 tbsp oil in a large pan over a medium to high heat. Ensure there is a sizzle when the meat goes into the pan. Brown the meat all over, in batches if necessary (don't overcrowd the pan). Reduce the heat, pour off the fat into a bowl.
  5. Pour 100ml water into the pan, bring to a simmer, scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon and reserve the liquid (this will have taken the flavour from the pan). However, if the liquid tastes burnt then discard it.
  6. In a heavy based casserole, heat a little oil and over a low heat cook the onions from the marinade until just starting to soften, then add the sugar and tomato paste. Cook the onions for a further 2 minutes to gain some colour. Add the stock, saffron, marinade juices (including bouquet garni), reserved liquid from the pan, tomatoes and season lightly.
  7. Add the browned meat to the sauce and bring to a gentle simmer. (Ideally cover with a cartouche/piece of baking parchment as well as a lid.)
  8. Simmer very gently for 2 ½ hours approx. or until the meat is tender and just starting to break apart (test a piece on a plate; you should be able to break it apart with a spoon). It’s good to check at 2 hours to get a sense of how much longer the meat needs.
  9. To make the crumb, in a small bowl combine the panko bread crumbs, chopped parsley, lemon zest, melted butter, salt and pepper. Set aside and cover until ready to use.
  10. Strain the sauce from the meat and discard the bouquet garni. Place the cooked meat in a bowl and use a fork to gently break it up until it is flaked into smaller pieces. Cover the meat with the parchment used earlier, or a fresh piece to stop the meat drying out while reducing the sauce.
  11. Return the sauce to the pan and simmer until reduced to a coating consistency (it should cling to a spoon rather than be watery and run off). Season to taste and then return the meat to the sauce. Reheat until piping hot to serve. Alternatively allow to cool completely before storing in the fridge or freezer.
  12. To serve: Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Cook the pasta according to manufacturer’s instructions, drain, toss in the hot sauce and serve immediately topped with the crumb (if using) and parmesan shavings.



Author: Jane Montgomery

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