Braised Pig Cheeks with Gnocchi

700gnochi

Ingredients

Serves 4

4 pig cheeks

½ bottle of red wine

100ml chicken stock

2 sticks of celery

3 sprigs of thyme

Salt and pepper

For the gnocchi (alternatively, you can buy it pre-made)

500g floury potatoes, such as King Edwards

125g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

½ egg, lightly beaten

Salt

4 small handfuls of wild mushrooms

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

Butter

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C.
  2. Prick the potatoes all over and bake in the oven until very soft, about 1.30hours.
  3. In a heavy bottomed roasting tray, brown the pig cheeks on all sides in a little olive oil.  Add the red wine, chicken stock, celery and 2 sprigs of thyme to the roasting tray and season the pig cheeks.  Reduce the oven temperature to 160C and place the roasting tray in the oven (along with the potatoes).  Allow to cook for 2-2.30 hours, until the meat falls apart.
  4. Whilst the potatoes are still warm, slice them in half and scoop out the flesh. Push the potato through potato ricer or sieve into a bowl.  Season with salt and combine gently with the egg.  Sprinkle half the flour onto a clean work surface.  Place the potato mixture on top and sprinkle with the remaining flour.  Press the mixture down with your fingers and bring together from the sides.  Do this until all the flour has been incorporated.  Divide the mixture in to thirds and roll in to 2cm diameter sausages, using small amounts of flour to dust.  Cut on a diagonal every 2cm and place on a floured tray.  Cover and refrigerate until needed.
  5. When the pig cheeks are almost done, heat a knob of butter in a frying pan.  Fry the garlic and mushrooms with some thyme leaves.  Whilst the mushrooms are cooking, bring a pan of water to the boil, reduce to a simmer and gently cook the gnocchi until they rise to the surface.  Remove with a slotted spoon and place on an oiled plate.
  6. Remove the mushrooms from the frying pan and brown the gnocchi in a little more butter.
  7. Remove the pig cheeks from the oven and pull the meat apart using two forks.
  8. Add the mushrooms back to the pan, along with the meat.  Spoon on to a serving plate, seasoning to taste and drizzling with the melted butter from the pan.