Red Wine and Prune Braised Pork Cheeks
Recipe create by Chef and Head Butcher Matt of Black Sage Butcher This dish is very classic French but transfers very easily to the South Okanagan. We have the big red wines and the plum trees growing Italian prunes that we dehydrate in the summer to add richness to our braises in the winter after a day of playing in the snow at Mount Baldy! Your butcher should able to get you pork cheeks if you give them a little notice and your reward will be a rich, succulent stew. Our recommendation is for pork cheeks but if you are too squeamish to try them – ask for boneless pork shoulder instead.
- ¼ pound thick sliced bacon cut into lardons
- 2 pounds Johnston’s pork cheeks seasoned with salt
- 3 cups red wine
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 large carrot peeled and chopped
- 2 ribs celery chopped
- 4-5 whole cloves garlic
- Herb bouquet: 2 bay leaves 1 small bunch fresh thyme, 1 sprig rosemary, 2 tsp black peppercorn, ½ cinnamon stick
- 4 whole dried shitake mushrooms
- 10 prunes dried and pitted
- 4 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 4 tablespoons cold water
- Preheat oven to 300°F
- Brown lardons in a large skillet until just starting to crisp, remove from pan and reserve for later.
- In leftover bacon fat, brown pork cheeks on all sides. When they are golden brown, move them to a dutch oven or a large casserole dish.
- Sauté onion, carrot, celery and garlic in the skillet until vegetables have released some of their liquid and dissolved any meaty bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add red wine and chicken stock to the pan and bring everything to a boil.
- Add boiling wine, stock and vegetables to dutch oven along with herb bouquet, prunes and dried shitakes, wrap tightly with tin foil, lid and place in preheated oven for 1.5-2 hours or until the meat is tender.
- When the meat is tender remove from liquid with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. Strain the liquid into a clean pot – I like to pour a ladleful of liquid over the meat and cover the bowl with plastic wrap, so the meat doesn’t dry out while I complete the sauce.
- Bring the reserved liquid to a simmer. Whisk in cornstarch slurry and simmer for 5 minutes to thicken, reintroduce the meat and reserved liquid to the thickened sauce.
- Serve with your best garlicky mashed potatoes, pearl onions, reserved lardons, roasted carrots and mushrooms.