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I like the idea of eating pigs cheeks, I've heard they are delicious, but difficult to cook so they are not chewy. How should I cook them so they are succulent and delicious?

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3 Answers

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Restaurants quite often cook pigs cheeks 'sous vide', but unless you have, or fancy investing in a water bath, you can do things the old fashioned way.

How you prepare the cheeks for cooking will, to some extent, depend on which part you're cooking. If you're going to cook the whole cheek, you really should think about soaking in a brine of sugar, salt, vinegar and spices for 24 to 48 hours. If you're just cooking the 'pad' that part can be skipped.

The thing to remember with cheeks, is they are quite a fatty meat and the muscle fibres are very dense, so whichever method you choose, it's going to take time.

One classic method is braising the cheeks with a variety of vegetables and something slightly sweet and sharp as a counter for the fat and cook in the oven for 2 to 3 hours at around 180c (350f)

Basically dust the cheeks in a little flour and season, then brown in some olive oil. remove form the pan and lightly sauté your vegetables, use leeks, baby onions, carrots, apples, garlic etc. add the cheeks pack to the pan, add some stock or stock/cider mix and cook. You could also do this on the hob (cooker top) in a heavy bottomed pan, but cook for 4 hours on a low heat.

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I dry cured some cheeks in salt and brown sugar, then sliced thin and fried like bacon. Pretty good.

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Long and slow is the key - I cook mine in the slow cooker on low, with stock, vegetables, apples, cider, depending on what I've got and what kind of flavour I'm ultimately looking for. I find they're great with a sticky sauce heavy with soy and sweetness and cut with vinegar.

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