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Slow-Braised Pigs' Cheeks with Parsnip Purée



For the pigs’ cheeks

    4 pigs' cheeks, trimmed of fat
    flour, for dusting
    olive oil, for frying
    2 onions, peeled and cut into chunks
    1/2 leek, outside leaves removed, washed and cut into 1 cm cubes
    1 large carrot, peeled, cut into 1cm cubes
    2 sticks celery, cut into 1 cm cubes
    1 clove garlic, sliced
    100 g tomato purée
    1/2 bottles dry red wine
    300 ml brown stock, or enough to cover
    1/2 tsp black peppercorns
    2 tsp caraway seeds
    1 bay leaf
    4 slices pancetta, fried until crisp

For the parsnip puree

    10 parsnips, peeled and cut into cubes
    200 ml milk
    50 g unsalted butter

For the carrots

    4 large carrots, cut into ¼cm x 12cm sticks
    knob of butter

Method
1. For the pigs' cheeks: season the pigs' cheeks and dust with a little flour. Heat some olive oil in a large ovenproof pan and fry the cheeks until golden-brown on both sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

2. Add the onions, leek, celery, carrots and garlic and fry gently until lightly browned. Add the tomato purée and a little of the red wine. Reduce until the tomato purée starts to caramelise and darken. Carry on adding the wine in stages, reducing between each addition until the sauce is rich and dark.

3. Preheat the oven to 140C/gas 1.

4. Return the cheeks to the pan and add pour over just enough brown stock to cover. Add the peppercorns, caraway seeds and bay leaf and bring to a simmer.

5. Cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 4 hours. Stir every hour or so, adding a little more brown stock if it starts looking dry.

6. Remove the cheeks and pass the sauce through muslin into a clean pan. Bring to the boil and reduce to a good consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

7. For the parsnip puree: put the parsnips in a pan with the milk and the same quantity of water. Bring to the boil and cook until very tender.

8. Put the parsnips in a blender with a little of the cooking liquid and the butter. Blend for about 10 minutes, until very smooth. Season.

9. For the carrots: boil the carrots in salted water until just tender. Drain and refresh in iced water. Warm through with a knob of butter before serving.

10. To serve, put a spoonful of parsnip purée on the plate. Cut a cheek at an angle and arrange on top. Pile on some carrot batons and balance a crisp slice of pancetta on top.


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