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The Caterer

Braised pig's cheek at restaurant 33

11 September 2006
Braised pig's cheek at restaurant 33

Ingredients

Pig's brain tongue and cheek

For poaching liquors
Water
Mirepoix of vegetables - onions carrots celery leeks
Garlic
Bay leaf
Peppercorns
(and for the brain a splash of Champagne vinegar and some juniper berries)

Method

Put tongue into cold water bring to the boil and cool. Skin when cool. Put the brains into water with the mirepoix herbs and vinegar. Bring to the boil and cool immediately.

Blanch the head in boiling water and wash off. Then fry off the mirepoix in the pot but do not allow it to get too much colour. Add the head and almost cover with water.

Bring to the boil and simmer for about three-and-a-half hours. The head is done when the snout bone pulls back nicely; if it "falls off" the head is overdone.

Tackling the head
When the head is cool enough to work with (although not so cold that it has seized-up solid) pull back the fat. First you have to remove the round nugget of meat you will find in the cheek. Then ease back the skin and fat to reveal the sheets of "white meat" that are the face meat. They should end up as almost square sheets of meat about 3cm thick.

Finally remove the two further nuggets of meat that you will find under the eye sockets.

Reduce and pass the liquor which the head was cooked in. Adjust with a little lemon juice or vinegar to counteract the fattiness and season. You are aiming for a light sauce so do not over-reduce.

Slice the poached tongue and put with the bits of meat into the light sauce. Then heat through thoroughly in the oven basting with the sauce so that the meats caramelise and glaze. Meanwhile cut the brain into appropriate pieces dust with flour and pan-fry in butter.

To dress the plate make a foundation of small morsels of meat top with one good scallop (either a large eye nugget or the cheek) add a sheet cut from the white face meat a slice of tongue and finally a portion of brain.

Make the sauce by further reducing the braising liquid seasoning and adding the merest hint of lemon juice or vinegar - you are seeking the acid reaction to counter fattiness rather than a taste.

Dress the plate with a quenelle of spinach purée seasoned with nutmeg and a wedge of potato pie.

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