In France, pork cheeks are classified as “les abats” or offal because they are attached to the pig’s head. The head, considered by no Frenchman ever as a thrown away item, is part of the stripped carcass. I don’t even understand why the French place the head of anything with les abats, considering their affinity for attached heads. Just try to buy a headless rabbit here and you’ll see what I mean.
Anyway, I was strolling by Maison Trotoux last week and noticed that his blackboard featured veal kidneys and veal liver so I stepped right in. I haven’t eaten les abats for about 1 1/2 years because I’m suspicious and distrustful of normal meat handling and processing in the U.S., so the insides of anything are out of the question. Thank the Lord for the French who specialize in making everything edible and safe to eat. It’s the law! Coincidentally, I was also in the market for pork cheeks in order to make a recipe I found in an old French Saveurs magazine and Trotoux had some; beautiful trimmed and irresistible.
For the last few days the weather has been almost wintry cold with rain. On Sunday we had a pause in the rain and everyone was happy to get to the picnic table for the usual all day Sunday lunch. We had lots of wine and we began with an apertif of Bailly Cremant Chardonnay, continuing with this through the entree of a refreshing salad with quail eggs and cubes of fromage bleu cendre (blue cheese rolled in ash). I guess I forgot to take a picture of the salad or the camera ate it 🙂
The unseasonable heavy rains have rotted some of the fresh beans in the fields. These red cocos that I bought were picked before time and were a little green, taking longer to cook. There was one green bean in with the bean pods that pleased me and led me to imagine a romantic, pastoral scene of the farmers harvesting in their bean fields, putting me in remote touch with the source of my food 😀
Lardons, onions, garlic, fresh cherry tomatoes, oregano and basil sorted the negativity of the not quite ripe beans.
I even included the lone green bean.
M. Parret brought over well aged bottles of Morgan and Epineuil from his cellar for the main course. I’d like to say we sipped instead of guzzled, but I can’t remember 🙂
Le Parret criticized this tarte because Kevin bought it at a supermarket. He called it “industrialized”. I think he was a little befuddled by the wine once we got to the dessert because he ate a very large piece with relish 😀
Pork Cheeks with Olives
12 pork cheeks, seasoned with salt and pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 large carrots, sliced
2 celery branches, sliced
1 tbsp flour
10 ounces of a yellow cooking wine (like Chateau – Chalon)
2 cups water
1 bouquet garni
3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 1/2 cup nicoise olives (substitute kalamata if not available)
Brown the cheeks on both sides in two batches then set aside. Add the onion, carrots, and celery to the pan and cook until onion is soft. Put the cheeks back in the pan, sprinkle with the flour, then cook and stir for about 1 minute. Add the wine and stirring, reduce for about 5 minutes. Stir in the bouquet garni and garlic, then place in a preheated 350 oven for 1 hour, covered.
Remove the cover, stir in the olives and return uncovered to the oven for an additional 30 minutes.