You may have found yourself in a restaurant where the waiter is persuading you on the cheek of the whole roasted fish he has just brought to your table, or at a butcher station where the butcher tries convincing you of the goodness of the beef cheek. Next time this happens, don’t be surprised, be grateful. The cheek meat truly is some of the best meat on the animal — be it halibut or pork. An often fail to notice cut, cheeks are where it’s at.
Cheek meat, the small cut of meat in the hollow of an animal’s cheek (if that wasn’t already clear enough) is uniquely lean and tender. While other cuts can commonly be one or the other — lean but dry or tender but fatty — those small cuts of the cheek are same.
You can investigate cheeks for yourself in different other ways, from beef cheek poutine to pork cheek ragù and Sichuan braised pork cheeks. You can try halibut cheeks with ginger-orange sauce or cod cheeks with mussels, chorizo and chickpeas. Guanciale, pork jowl or cheek, is a staple in Italian cooking, excellent in dishes like spaghetti, or carbonara.
If you need any more inspiration, here are some of the recipes that will convince you that it’s time to start consuming more cheeks.
Beef Cheek Meat and Pickled Onions
- Pickled Onions
- 1 red onion
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 a beet
- 1 handful cilantro
- 1 part water
- 2 parts cider vinegar
- Barbacoa Beef Cheeks
- 2 1/2 pounds beef cheeks
- 4 pieces of garlic
- 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
- 1 ancho chili
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (plus 2 more for cooking)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
- 1 handful fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 avocado
- corn tortillas
- fresh cilantro
- Slice the onions thinly and put them in a microwaveable container. Add beet, cilantro, salt and sugar. prepair with 1 part water to 2 parts vinegar.
- microwave for 1 minute, stir, and microwave for another minute. Cool, then refridgerate until morning. The beet will let it turn to a really pretty hot pink color.
- Barbacoa Beef Cheeks
- Clean and cut the cheeks. Put it in a container so you can marinate them.
- Take off the stem and seeds from the ancho, slice it up into chunks then put in a little water to rehydrate.
- Peel and slice the garlic. Add everything from the garlic to the salt in the food processor (even the water from the chili) and blend until like paste. Toss the paste with the cheeks and marinate for a couple of hours or better yet over night.
- When it’s time to cook, heat the oven to 275, and heat 2 tbs olive oil in an oven. Brown the cheeks on both sides. Use the broth to the rest of the marinade into the oven, then extract the juice of 3 limes in.
- Bake at 275 for 3 1/2 hours – turn it over once or twice while they cook, if the liquid dries up, add a bit more broth
- When the cheeks are already tender, take the pan out of the oven. Using 2 forks, pull the meat apart in the pan so that it mixes with all of that flavorful fatty goodness.
- To serve – heat 2 tortillas. Fill with barbacoa, sliced avocado, some pickled onions and fresh cilantro. Serve and enjoy.
Pigs’ Cheeks with Apple and Cider
- olive oil 3 tbsp
- pigs’ cheeks 6 (about 600g)
- red onions 3
- apples 3
- stock 500 ml
- cider 500ml
- Warm the oil in a big pan over a moderate heat. Flavor the pigs’ cheeks with salt and pepper, then brown it lightly on both sides in oil. While the cheeks are browning, prepair onions, a quarter them, then cut them thickly. Remove the cheeks from the pan to a plate, then put onions to the pan and let it soften.
- Preheat the oven at 160C/gas mark 3.
- Once the onions are soft and translucent, put the cheeks back to the pan, slice apples into quarters, cutting out the cores as you go, then add it to the pan along with the stock and the cider. have the liquid to the boil, then quickly lower the heat, season with salt and pepper to taste, cover it with a lid, and put it in to the oven.
- Bake the cheeks, occasionally turning them in their cooking liquor, for three hours. Remove from the oven and let the cheeks in a warm place. Put the baking dish over a medium heat and let the sauce reduce in volume some more, until it’s thick enough to coat the cheeks. Put the cheeks to the sauce, Add some seasoning, and serve with mashed potato.