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Potted pigs' cheeks with pea custard, by Madalene Bonvini-Harnel

15 July 2009
Potted pigs' cheeks with pea custard, by Madalene Bonvini-Harnel

Potted pigs' cheeks with pea custard is of three recipes devised by chef Madalene Bonvini-Harnel to ensure fresh peas keep all their flavour and colour during their short season.
INGREDIENTS (Serves four)

For the potted pigs' cheeks

  • 280g pigs' cheeks
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly cracked black pepper and coarse sea salt
  • 1 sprig of savory, thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 100g finely diced banana shallots
  • 4tbs chopped chives, chervil and savory

For the pea custard

  • 150g fresh garden peas, podded
  • 150ml white chicken stock
  • 1g agar-agar powder
  • 50ml double cream
  • Freshly cracked black pepper and coarse sea salt
  • 1tsp chopped fresh savory

For the horseradish crèmefraîche

  • 100g crème fraîche
  • 5g freshly finely grated horseradish
  • Coarse sea salt

To serve

  • 6 whole pea pods and pea tops
  • Chervil
  • 4 round red radishes
  • Micro cress
  • Shards of dried bread

Pig's cheeks with pea custard
Pig's cheeks with pea custard


Preheat the water bath to 82°C.

Remove any excess fat, skin or sinew from the cheeks. Wash them under cold running water and pat dry. Season the cheeks with freshly cracked black pepper and coarse sea salt.

Place the cheeks along with a lightly bruised garlic clove, cloves, 30ml extra virgin olive oil, sprig of savory, thyme and bay leaf in a clean vacuum bag. Seal on hard vacuum.

Cook the cheeks in the preheated water bath for 12 hours.

Once the cheeks are cooked, remove them from the bag. Pass the rendered juices through a fine sieve or muslin cloth and flake the meat.

Heat a non-stick sauté pan with the rest of the oil and banana shallots and season lightly. Sauté the shallots until they start to turn transparent, add the flaked meat and the cooking liquid. Gently simmer over low heat until the liquid reduces to a sticky glaze.

Check the seasoning and fold in a generous amount of chopped herbs such as chervil, chives and savory.

Fill four 150ml glass jars halfway with the meat and place the pots on a tray in position for the pea custard.


Pod and rinse the peas. Blanch them in a pan of salted rapid boiling water, until al dente, refresh in iced water.

Place the chilled blanched peas in a high power blender along with seasoning and savory, blend to a fine purée.

Bring the stock and cream to the boil and add the agar-agar, stir and boil for two minutes.

Pour the hot stock and cream over the crushed peas, blend for a minute and pass the pea custard through a fine sieve into a jug.

Immediately pour the custard on to the potted pigs' cheeks.

Let the custard set, then place the tray in the fridge to cool completely, about one hour. Do not disturb the custard before it sets as agitation could prevent the custard setting.


Mix the crème fraîche with the finely grated horseradish and season to taste.


Remove the pots from the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving to come to room temperature.

Wash the pea pods and slice them in half lengthways. Wash the radishes and slice them into thin slices on a mandolin.

Use a pastry brush to paint a line of the horseradish crème fraîche on to the slate, arrange the pea pods and tops, micro cress and sliced radishes and shards of dried bread. Place the potted cheeks on one end garnished with peas and micro cress.

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