- For the pork cheeks;
- 6 pork cheeks, trimmed of all fat and sinew
- 1 bottle red wine, whatever style you have to hand
- 3tblsp olive oil
- 1 onion
- 1 carrot
- 1 celery stick
- 1 leek
- 1 tomato
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1ltr chicken stock
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 2 sprigs tarragon
- For the Pasta;
- 550g ‘00’ flour
- 4 whole eggs
- 6 egg yolks
- 1tblsp olive oil
- Salt to taste
- For the Parsnip Velouté;
- 100g parsnips, peeled and chopped
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 200ml chicken stock
- 50ml single cream
- 1tsp truffle oil
- 20g knob of cold butter
- 100g frozen peas
- Pea shoot cress
- 6 pieces of crispy streaky bacon
I am a massive fan of cheeks from most animals, pork, beef, and monkfish, cod ect. They have a very deep flavour when cooked slow and long, and very tender and gelatinous texture that is sensationally, lip-smacking delicious. It’s terrific that pork cheeks are no longer considered to be a throwaway cut.
In this recipe the pork cheeks are shredded and mixed with the reduced cooking liquid and wrapped in thin pasta sheets. The parsnip sauce and the deep, rich pork cheek work fantastically together and is differently a dish worth trying at home, give it a go you will not be disappointed.
For the pork cheeks;
Marinate the pork cheeks in the red wine for 24 hours.
Drain the pork cheeks and reserve the red wine. Gently sear the cheeks in the olive oil, remove from the pan then set aside.
Combine the onion, carrot, celery, leek and tomato in a hot pan and caramelise on full heat. When caramelised, add the pork cheeks and the reserved red wine. Reduce the volume by about half.
Add the chicken stock and herbs. Slowly braise for three to four hours on a low heat. Once the meat is tender, remove the pork cheeks and set them aside.
Further reduce the sauce until it is very sticky and thick and with an almost firm texture.
Gently shred the pork cheeks with a fork and mix in enough sauce to coat the pork cheeks. Make sure you do not add to much sauce or the tortellini will burst when cooked.
For the Pasta;
Place the flour on a board or in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and crack the eggs into it. Beat the eggs with a fork until smooth. Using the tips of your fingers, mix the eggs with the flour, incorporating a little at a time, until everything is combined. Knead the pieces of dough together – with a bit of work and some love and attention they’ll all bind together to give you one big, smooth lump of dough!
You can also make your dough in a food processor if you’ve got one. Just place everything in, blend until the flour looks like breadcrumbs, then tip the mixture on to your work surface and bring the dough together into one lump, using your hands.
Once you’ve made your dough you need to knead and work it with your hands to develop the gluten in the flour, otherwise your pasta will be flabby and soft when you cook it, instead of springy and al dente.
There’s no secret to kneading. You just have to work the dough hard with your hands, squashing it into the table, reshaping it, pulling it, stretching it, squashing it again. It’s quite hard work, and after a few minutes it’s easy to see why the average Italian grandmother has arms like Mike tyson! When your pasta starts to feel smooth and silky instead of rough and floury, then the dough is ready. When ready wrap in cling film and put it in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour before you use it. Make sure the cling film covers it well or it will dry out and go crusty round the edges.
For the Parsnip Velouté;
Pre heat the oven to 220c. Place a large tray into the oven with a little butter and oil. When the pan is hot and the butter starts to foam add the parsnips and toss well to coat. Cook for 35min, stir every 5mins to prevent the parsnip from sticking. In a large pan add a little butter and sweat the onion, add the roast parsnip and the stock and bring to the boil, cook for 15mins then puree the soup with a blender. Strain the soup back into the pan and bring back to the boil, add the cream and simmer for 5mins.
Rolling the tortellini;
Make sure your pasta machine is clamped firmly to a clean work surface before you start (use the longest available work surface you have). Make sure your work surface is completely free, from kitchen objects, as you will need plenty of working space once you start making the pasta, and starting with a clear space to work in will make things much easier. Dust your work surface with some ‘00’ flour, cut the pasta into 4 and press the first quarter out flat with your fingertips. Set the pasta machine at its widest setting – and roll the pasta dough through it. Lightly dust the pasta with flour if it sticks at all. Click the machine down a setting and roll the pasta dough through again. Fold the pasta in half, click the pasta machine back up to the widest setting and roll the dough through again. Repeat this process five or six times. It might seem like you’re getting nowhere, but in fact you’re working the dough, and once you’ve folded it and fed it through the rollers a few times, you’ll feel the difference. It’ll be smooth as silk.
Now it’s time to roll the dough out properly, working it through all the settings on the machine, from the widest down to around the narrowest. Lightly dust both sides of the pasta with a little flour every time you run it through. When you’ve got down to the narrowest setting, to give yourself a tidy sheet of pasta, fold the pasta in half lengthways, then in half again, then in half again once more until you’ve got a square piece of dough. Turn it 90 degrees and feed it through the machine at the widest setting. As you roll it down through the settings for the last time, you should end up with a lovely rectangular silky sheet of dough with straight sides. If your dough is a little cracked at the edges, fold it in half just once, click the machine back two settings and feed it through again. Roll it down to the thinnest point where you can clearly see your hand or lines of newsprint through it.
Lay the sheets out flat and cut out 6 large circles with a pastry cutter. Place a tea spoonful of the cooled pork cheek mixture onto each disk, brush the rim of the disks with a little egg wash and fold in half over the mixture to form a half moon. Press down gently so the pasta sticks together. Now roll the pasta around your finger to form small tortellinis. Place the tortellinis onto a floured tray and leave ready for cooking.
Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add the tortellini’s and cook for 3mins or until the pasta is cooked through but still retains a little bit. Remove from the pan and drain. Season to taste and toss in a teaspoon of truffle oil. Keep warm.
Place the sauce into a small pan and bring to the boil, adjust seasoning and remove from the heat. Add the butter and blend with a stick blender to produce light foam. Add the peas and set aside and keep warm.
Place a cooked tortellini into the centre of each hot pasta bowl. Spoon over the hot sauce and peas, garnish with pea shoot cress and crispy bacon slice.
Serve at once.