Pig Cheeks

pig cheeks

October 25th, 2012

It’s definitely the time of year when you start to crave thick, unctuous casseroles and mashed potato. Pig cheeks fit the bill perfectly – when braised in stock for several hours they literally melt in your mouth. I’d go as far as to  say that they are one of the best parts of a pig.

Braised Pig Cheeks recipe (serves 3 or 4):

1 1/2 lb pig cheeks (14 cheeks trimmed)
1 large onion (chopped)
1 medium carrot (chopped)
1 stick of celery (chopped)
6 pieces of garlic (finely chopped)
2 teaspoonfuls of ground mixed herbs (a pinch of sea salt, black peppercorns, rosemary, sage and thyme – ground in a mortar)
2 bay leaves
a big squirt of tomato purée
a small squirt of anchovy paste
half to a pint of home made chicken stock (recipe here)
half a glass of red wine
a splash of red wine vinegar
olive oil for frying
2 heaped dessertspoons of plain flour
1 heaped teaspoonful of English mustard powder
1 big pinch of crushed dried chilli
a little sea salt and cracked black pepper

browning cheeks

Mix the flour and mustard with a little salt and pepper. Coat the pig cheeks in the seasoned flour before browning slightly in hot olive oil. Do this in a cast iron casserole with lid. Keep any left over flour, it will come in handy for thickening the sauce later.


Remove the cheeks to a plate and using the same oil and pan, sprinkle in a pinch of ground chilli and gently fry the onions until they go translucent. Stir in the celery, carrot and garlic

browned cheeks

and after a minute or two return the cheeks to the pan.


Squirt in the anchovy paste and tomato purée. Pour in the wine, vinegar and stock. The cheeks should just be covered in liquid (they are paddling not swimming). Add the bay leaves and ground herbs, bring the pan to a simmer, put the lid on and place in a pre heated oven at 120ºC for 3 – 4 hours.


Check the cheeks every half an hour or so – stir in some of the seasoned flour if the sauce isn’t thick enough, but don’t add it all at once or it could be too much. Do keep tasting the sauce and add a little anchovy paste, tomato purée, vinegar etc., if it is lacking. The flavour will mellow during cooking and might need a little extra kick.


The cheeks are done when they are soft and tender – they should break open with a butter knife. Serve on a bed of mashed potato or celeriac with lots of the sauce.

Audrey came to supper and she brought a lovely bottle of organic Valencian tempranillo, Casa Lluch. It was the perfect accompaniment to pig cheeks.

About Mad Dog

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43 Responses to Pig Cheeks

  1. This looks so, so, good! Did you know that “sweet cheeks” is a form of endearment (with someone who you are very, very familiar with) in these parts?

  2. Tessa says:

    Wow! I’ve never had pig cheeks before. Even when raising swine in a former life, we never utilized that part. Interesting. That is one ingredient that I have never seen at my local butcher. If I do see them, I will be sure to try them.

  3. Michelle says:

    This looks delicious! We can find jowls, but for some reason these smaller cheeks are difficult to come by here.

  4. Eha says:

    This looks oh so tasty! Love the inclusion of the anchovy paste: oft that ‘secret’ ingredient! Know the surrounding supermarkets would say ‘pig’s WHAT?’, but also know a butcher around the corner who gets me tripe and sweetbreads and . . . perhaps won’t yell ‘what’! 😀 !

  5. Pigs have cheeks? And you can eat them? Of course, what was I thinking!! I love anything braised and I bet these are just so tender and full of rich flavor!

  6. I’ve always wondered what to do with pig cheeks. The sauce looks so rich and I am fascinated that you included anchovy paste.

  7. ChgoJohn says:

    We do think alike, Our weather is changing and I braised beef short ribs over the weekend. It must be something in the air — like frost! I was just congratulating myself for finding and buying some guanciale today, only to find out that you’ve raised the bar and cooked pig cheeks. The search begins anew …

  8. Conor Bofin says:

    Masterly stuff MD, “paddling, not swimming” is a great description.

  9. expatchef says:

    Yummmmmmmmmmmmmm……carrilleras! Super delicious….and I agree, totally the best part of pork AND beef!

  10. You’re going to be surprised to hear that tuna cheek is very like beef and we’ll be hearing a lot more of it soon – in Jamie Mag:)

    • Mad Dog says:

      Having eaten mojama, which is cured, dried tuna, tasting a bit like ham, I wouldn’t be surprised at all. You won’t catch me reading Jamie Mag though 😉

  11. I love Pig cheeks (carrilleras as we call them in Spain) and your recipe seems to be a very traditional and well done one. That velvet brown sauce is just perfect with a piece of bread 😉

  12. I am feeling hungry just reading all these wonderful comments !
    I remembered not to wear a tight dress to Mad Dogs TV Dinner party this time ! These pig’s cheeks are more ‘deelish’ than moorish and they are very very moorish !! I could eat them forever.

    MD is getting good …real good. And cheeky ! I shall buy him Jaime’s mag for Xmas ha ha !

  13. ¡Qué pinta! Ayer vi en el supermercado una bandeja de carrilleras de cerdo y me acordé de ti y de esta receta. Me parece que muy pronto la pondré a prueba… 🙂
    Que tengas buen fin de semana

  14. Karen says:

    The pig cheeks sound yummy. I had beef cheeks a couple of days ago but I’m sure your dish was much better.

  15. Mmmm, unctuous is the word! I’ve never cooked pig cheeks, but I must be able to find them here easily, along with almost all other pig cuts, and the weather is just beginning to get chilly enough to try cooking them.

  16. Fabulous dish – my mum makes them exactly like this for us, will have to see if I can track some down!

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