BRAISED PORK CHEEK WITH GRILLED ASPARAGUS
¾ cup (175 ml) each of kosher salt and granulated sugar
1 cup (250 ml) boiling water
1 tsp (5 ml) whole black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
20 star anise
½ head of garlic
BRAISED PORK CHEEK AND ASPARAGUS:
1 lb (500 g) fresh, natural fed pork cheek, cleaned of all silver skin
2 tsp + 1 tbsp (10 ml + 15 ml) olive oil, divided
¼ cup (60 ml) all-purpose flour
½ cup (125 ml) medium-diced onion
¼ cup (60 ml) medium-diced carrot
¼ cup (60 ml) medium-diced celery
2 garlic cloves, peeled
4 cups (1 L) ham or chicken stock
sherry vinegar to taste
16 large asparagus spears, trimmed
fresh herbs, such as nasturtium, for garnish
Mustard Dressing, for dotting plate (optional)
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp (30 ml) Dijon mustard
2 oz (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 dash of rice wine vinegar
salt, to taste
- To make PORK BRINE: Combine kosher salt and granulated sugar in a container large enough to hold 5 cups (1.25 L) of liquid and 1 lb (500 g) of meat. Add 1 cup (250 ml) boiling water to dissolve salt and sugar. Add peppercorns, bay leaves, sprigs of thyme, star anise and garlic. Add remaining cold water to yield 5 cups (1.25 L) total and stir in. Chill brine before adding pork. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 12 hours.
- Brine cheeks overnight, then remove from brine and place on a towel. Let dry in fridge for minimum 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 285 F (140 C). Heat 2 tsp (10 ml) olive oil in a medium ovenproof saucepan. Lightly dust pork cheek with flour and brown gently, remove meat and add diced vegetables and garlic and sweat over medium heat just until softened, a couple of minutes. Add ham or chicken stock and deglaze pan.
- Add pork cheeks to stock. Cover and slow braise in oven for about 1½ hours or until pork is tender. Remove from oven and allow meat to cool in stock. Then remove meat and pat dry with paper towel.
- Strain stock and return to saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat until reduced to about 1 cup (250 ml) and thickened to a glazing consistency, about 30 minutes. Taste and add a splash of sherry vinegar, to taste.
- To make MUSTARD DRESSING: Whisk together egg yolk and Dijon mustard, while streaming in extra-virgin olive oil. When thickened add a dash of rice wine vinegar and salt, to taste.
- Shortly before serving preheat grill and oil trimmed asparagus with 1 tbsp (15 ml) oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Add cheeks to reduced glaze and warm through.
- Meanwhile, grill asparagus lightly on preheated grill. Remove and brush lightly with grainy mustard.
- Serve pork cheeks with grilled asparagus alongside and a little extra reduced glaze drizzled over top. Finish plate with dollops of Mustard Dressing on plate, if desired.