Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pork Cheek Confit




I was talking to my favourite butcher at Tiong Bahru Market about the different cuts of pork and how to best cook them when he took out a bag full of pork cheeks and asked me to try them. He suggested braising them in soy sauce the traditional Chinese way but I had other plans in mind.

Yes, I was planning to sous vide them the same way I sous vide my beef cheeks but changed my mind almost immediately when I saw the pile of pork fat behind the counter. I immediately asked for 2 kilograms of the glorious fat. Yes, I was going to prepare pork cheek confit for our Sunday dinner!

Commonly using duck, confit is seasoned meat that is slow cooked in its own rendered fat and lard. Cooked confit is allowed to cool without being removed from the renderings and can be stored in the fat for a long time. The French started using this method of cooking, cooling and storing to preserve meat for a longer period of time before the refrigerator was invented.

Besides the aroma that filled the air when rendering the pork lard in preparation of this confit dish, I absolutely love the "by-products" of this cooking process - the rendered fat and the crackling. Both so very flavourful and versatile - I store them in jars and use them in many other dishes and cooking.

I gave this pork cheek confit an Asian twist by finishing it in a soy-mirin-vinegar reduction. Served with potato gratin and portobello, it was a very satisfying meal enjoyed by the whole family!


Ingredients (Serves 5)

Confit of Pork Cheek
10 pork cheeks
150g coarse sea salt
fresh thyme and rosemary sprigs, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 kg pork fat, cut into cubes
6 tbsp dark soy sauce
4 tbsp mirin
4 tbsp maple syrup
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Potato gratin
1 kg potato
250ml heavy cream
250ml full milk
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 onion, peeled
1/2 tbsp sea salt
25g unsalted butter

Portobello
2 tbsp rendered pork fat (from above)
5 large Portobello mushrooms
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp white wine
2 tbsp water/broth
salt and pepper


 Method

Confit of Pork Cheek

Clean, dry and place the pork cheeks on a plate. Sprinkle salt, herbs and garlic. Cover with cling wrap and keep in fridge overnight.

Render the pork fat over high heat until you get almost all the liquid lard out of the golden brown cracking. Transfer the liquid lard into a casserole (Cast iron preferred).

Preheat the oven to 120°C.

Rinse the excess spices off the marinated pork, removing all the salt, and dry thoroughly. Carefully immerse the pork cheeks into the casserole of fat. Cover with foil and the lid, then place in the oven for about 4 hours, until the pork is meltingly tender and the flesh is just coming apart. 

Remove casserole from the oven and leave the cheeks to cool in the fat. Remove and dry with kitchen paper. Keep aside.

Bring the soy sauce, mirin, maple syrup and vinegar mixture to boil in a sauté pan. Reduce to a honey consistency and add the cold pork cheeks into the syrup and warm through for 4–5 minutes, until caramelised and nicely sticky, turning regularly.


Potato gratin

Peel the potatoes and slice them thinly (about 3mm thick) and put them into a large saucepan with the milk, cream, onion, minced garlic and salt. Bring to the boil and cook until potato is tender but not dissolving into mush. (Do check on the potato from time to time and stir to avoid burning at the bottom.)

Preheat the oven to 240°C.

Grease a medium roasting tray with some of the butter. Remove onion from the potato and pour the potato milk mixture into the tray. Press and distribute evenly. Dot with remaining butter and bake in oven for 15 minutes or until gratin is browned.

Remove, let stand for 10-20 minutes.


Portobello

Season mushroom with sea salt and pepper.

Heat a sauté pan with the rendered pork fat. Stir fry the garlic and deglazed with wine. Add the water/broth and bring to boil. Add mushrooms and cover pan with a lid. Cook for 2-3 minutes each side. Add water if necessary.


Plating

Place portobello and some fresh salad leaves of your choice on one side of the plate and the pork cheek confit on the other. Slice the potato gratin into squares and place a piece between the pork and the mushroom.

Use your imagination, create patterns using drops of the reduction by the side.














46 comments:

  1. Hi, Alvin! Salute. Baking the pork cheeks for 4 hours is too long for me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Joselyn! Thanks.

      4 hours is not long, I cook my sous vide short ribs for 72 hours! :D

      Delete
  2. I wonder what that tastes like - never heard of it before but anything that's pork has got to be nice, I'm sure. Hehehehehe!!!! Ummm...can I have seconds...or thirds? Can finish one serving in one gulp - I'm that gross. No class at all. LOL!!!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Arthur! You are a porky man too?! :D You are not gross!! You are a good father and you are passionate about your food! :D

      Delete
  3. Oh my goodness but the pork cheek confit looks really good! I have not seen this part of pork meat before though, I wonder what did the butcher here did with them lol! Could try with another part of the meat huh.

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  4. Wow what an elegant dish. Looks like a dish from Michelin starred restaurant. Well done Chef!

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  5. Another restaurant standard dish, Alvin! Looks really elegant.

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  6. Chef, the presentation is absolutely faultless...that alone is enough to send us all drooling and regreting why we're not part of your household or residing in SG - nearby!

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    Replies
    1. Haha Annie! Come visit me in Singapore! :D

      Delete
  7. Hi Alvin, what an elegant looking dish. Never heard of pork cheek, what is this part of pork in Mandarin? Always have trouble telling my Chinese speaking butcher the parts of pork I want. And how do you say shoulder butt? Anyone??? Please help.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Lian! Just tell your butcher cheek?!! Haha.. or point to your cheek!

      But I know what's shoulder butt in Chinese... Should be 梅肉.

      Delete
  8. Hi Godson, 4 hours!! I buy 2kg pork bring over to your house, you cook for me. :))

    Nice plating, very delectable dish.

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  9. Hi Alvin, plating is absolutely gorgeous! And your pork cheeks look so tender and to die-for. Thanks for sharing how to "confit".... wah need 2kg of pork lard....

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Yen! Pork fat is actually quite healthy... Google it!

      Delete
  10. Alvin, you are so expert, i thinks i still not in that stage, just come over here to enjoys your dish la. ha....

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Xing Hui! We are all learning... :D

      Delete
  11. Alvin, I have heard so much about pork cheeks but I have never seen this particular cut of meat anywhere here even in the market. Perhaps one needs to specifically request from the butcher. The cooking time is quite long, 4 hours eekkk!!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Phong Hong! I love to slow-cook meat... the flavour is amazing! :D

      Delete
  12. wah !!! If its me, i can only get as far as the pork fat. The dish looks amazing.....

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  13. Hi Alvin, your plating & photography is always impressive!
    Wish that piece of meat(last photo) can put into my mouth right now,hahaha...

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Esther! Still lots to learn and improve on! :D

      Delete
  14. Wow, that is one impressive meal!
    Have you ever thought of entering "Masterchef"? You should!!! :)

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    Replies
    1. Haha Joyce! Masterchef? I will freak out on TV! :D

      Delete
  15. Super yummy looking and looks so pro!! I don't think I've had pork cheeks before. What's it like?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Fern! It tastes like.... cheek! :D

      Ha... The cheeks are very flavourful but tough with lots of tissues and collagen. Usually slow cooked for hours until fork tender.

      Delete
  16. Oh my my! Pork cheeks.... Such a rarity. I need to find a butcher friend pronto! Only have a beef one down the road and to get beef cheeks I have to order in advance. But that pile of pork fat, wow what a glorious sight! Please come to KL and cook for me!

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  17. You should open a restaurant. Bet the business will be flourishing. Definitely all the faithful bloggers out there will be your customers.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Amy! F&B industry is too competitive... my passion will be killed before the business takes off! :D

      Delete
  18. Kill me now. Haven't had pork cheeks for years and yours must be the best rendition on earth

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  19. Alvin , another sumptuous meal ! The plating is just gorgeous ! Haven't had pork cheek before :P

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Anne! You should... talk to your butcher soon!

      Delete
  20. I heard of duck confit but never try it before. Your confit of pork cheek is amazing , wish I can try yours as I know I have slim change to prepare this dish !

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  21. wah i was salivating at the fried pork fat. looks like something i could use for fried hokkien mee. Anyways your plating looks delish, like dining at a fine dining restaurant.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Eiling! Yes, the lard would be perfect for noodle!

      Delete
  22. i've confit dusk, goose and chicken but none with pork....
    this is upscale michelin dish from a "second grade" cut of fig,
    very clever and well photographed!

    ReplyDelete

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