Ultra tender braised pork cheeks in wine sauce with shallots on a bed of mashed potatoes, a tasty tapa or main dish recipe coming straight from Spain.

Braised pork cheeks in wine sauce is a delicate yet powerful dish. Although the meat is tender and melts on your tongue, the flavour is outstanding. I encountered this dish on a tapas night in San Sebastian, Spain. Lost in a dark corner of a little plaza, in a place called “La Cuchara de San Telmo,” a heavenly place! It’s their star dish; they no longer have to write it down on the menu board since it’s so popular. It is served as tapas, which means a small portion. It was so good that we added to order it a second time. This recipe is my take on this famous dish called Carrilleras de cerdo al vino tapa!

Pork Treasure!

The trick here is to cook slow and long pork cheeks! They are so underrated; they should be the most expensive and exquisite piece of pork, but lucky for our wallets, it’s not… Cheeks got all the flavour, and it’s a relatively lean part. Its secret? The collagen! Which is a flavour bomb and, if cooked properly, gets so tender. For example, meat with lots of collagen, like ribs, needs a long and slow cooking process for the collagen to turn into this tender gelatine (jelly). Once that process is done, your meat will melt like butter on your tongue. A true pleasure!

Your butcher can leave the bone on; it will come off easily at the end of cooking. This cut is relatively small, so one isn’t enough for a main dish; I would always make two cheeks per person.

Tender braised pork cheeks in wine sauce

The Red Wine Sauce

Tips for a perfect, deep brown sauce (a.k.a. gravy) made from scratch: Chocolate! Yeah! You’ve heard me: CHOCOLATE! It’s a hidden secret of Grands Chefs... You need a tiny bit at the end of cooking your sauce with a touch of butter to give extra shine and texture, and voila! You get an unctuous, deep brown sauce for your pork cheeks!

Tender braised pork cheeks in wine sauce

Other Meals for Meat Lovers

Let’s do some Tapas!

Tender Braised Pork Cheek in Red Wine Sauce

4.78 from 9 votes
Total Time 3 hours
Servings 4 people
Calories 626
Ultra tender braised pork cheeks in wine sauce with shallots on a bed of mashed potatoes, a tasty tapa or main dish recipe coming straight from Spain.

Ingredients

The pork cheeks

  • 4 pork cheeks (with bone if possible)
  • 400 ml chicken broth
  • 375 ml red wine
  • 150 g shallots (peeled but whole)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp dark chocolate (or cornstarch)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 bouquet garni (or 1 tbsp of thyme)

The mashed potatoes

  • 3 big potatoes
  • 500 ml warm milk
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 tsp nutmeg (*optional)
  • salt and pepper

Instructions 

  • Cut off the white membrane on top of the pork cheeks… if any, and add salt and pepper to the cheeks (keep the bone if possible).
  • In a pan or casserole, sear the pieces in olive oil until brown on each side (deglazed with the wine, then add to the oven pot to take all the flavours from the pan).
  • Transfer the cheeks into an oven-proof container or casserole and add the bouquet garni, shallots, wine and broth.
  • Cook at 180°C (350F°) for 2-2 1/2 hours, turn mid-time, and keep the meat moist by occasionally pouring some of the bottom sauce on the cheek.
  • Cook the potatoes in boiling water 25 minutes before the end of the meat.
  • When the cheeks are cooked, reserve them covered with the shallots.
  • Pass through a sieve, put the juice left into a pan, and reduce the sauce until it has a nice creamy texture.
  • Mash the peeled potatoes with the milk, olive oil, nutmed, salt and pepper.
  • Add the thickener, dark chocolate or cornstarch mixed with 3 tbsp of cold water.
  • Reduce until the sauce slightly sticks to the back of a spoon.
  • Add butter and let it melt gently.
  • Take the bone off the pieces of meat (it should come right off).
  • Serve the meat on the mashed potatoes, add a few shallots and cover with wine sauce.

Notes

These cheeks are not so big, so don’t expect a steak; if you are a big eater, calculate two cheeks per person.
If you have extra sauce, freeze it in an ice cube tray, which can be kept in the freezer for five months. It’s a beneficial idea to enhance any dish. (pasta, rice, soups, etc.)
Author: Marie Breton
Calories: 626kcal
Course: Plato principal
Cuisine: Spanish
Keyword: braised, pork cheeks, slow cooking, wine sauce

Nutrition

Calories: 626kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 23g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 463mg | Potassium: 1218mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 590IU | Vitamin C: 37mg | Calcium: 279mg | Iron: 6mg
Nutrition Facts
Tender Braised Pork Cheek in Red Wine Sauce
Amount per Serving
Calories
626
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
38
g
58
%
Saturated Fat
 
9
g
56
%
Trans Fat
 
0.1
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
4
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
23
g
Cholesterol
 
26
mg
9
%
Sodium
 
463
mg
20
%
Potassium
 
1218
mg
35
%
Carbohydrates
 
47
g
16
%
Fiber
 
7
g
29
%
Sugar
 
13
g
14
%
Protein
 
10
g
20
%
Vitamin A
 
590
IU
12
%
Vitamin C
 
37
mg
45
%
Calcium
 
279
mg
28
%
Iron
 
6
mg
33
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

6 Comments

  1. Hey man! The recipe looks delicious. What wine would you recommend braising in? A rioja?

  2. 5 stars
    I cannot stress how tender these came out. I was seriously impressed with the outcome and the flavor. Next time I will make a bigger batch to serve some friends at our next dinner party. Have a blessed day.

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