Chef Colin Bedford of Fearrington House Restaurant in Pittsboro, North Carolina, combines his knowledge of local ingredients and Southern traditions with his English sensibility, resulting in dishes like braised pork cheeks. Bedford braises pork cheeks in apple cider and serves them alongside smoked grits and roasted rutabagas for a dish that is definitely a little bit Southern, a little bit British, and completely delicious.
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces butter
2½ pounds pork cheeks, silver skin removed
¼ cup all purpose flour
4 cloves garlic
1 onion, cut into large chunks
1 carrot, cut into large chunks
4 stalks celery, cut into large chunks
1 pound applewood smoked bacon slab, cut into extra large lardons
1½ cup white wine
1½ cup apple cider
1 cup Madeira wine
4 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
6 sprigs thyme, tied with string
1 cup vegetable stock
2 cups whole milk
½ large onion, fine dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup grits
Salt to taste
2 teaspoons oil
1 shallot, small dice
2 garlic cloves,Salt
1 pound mushrooms, mixed variety
¼ cup sherry,1½ cups cream
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 apples, scooped with melon baller
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
8 ounces rutabaga, medium dice
8 ounces sweet potato, medium dice
24 baby brussels sprouts
8 ounces kale, ripped
16 cipollini onions, peeled and cooked
1 parsnip, shaved
2 tablespoons oil
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Heat oil and butter in large pot over medium to high heat. Add pork to pot and sear until golden brown on all sides.
- Sprinkle flour over pork and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic, onion, carrots, celery, and bacon lardons, and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes.
Stir in white wine, apple cider, and Madeira, and bring to boil. Reduce by half, and then add stock, sherry vinegar, honey, Worcestershire sauce, and aromatics. Return to light simmer.
- Cover with lid, transfer to oven and cook for about 2½ hours or until meat is tender.
- In boiling salted water, blanch rutabaga, sweet potato, and brussels sprouts until fork tender, about 5 minutes. Then plunge into ice water.
- After stew has been cooking for 2½ hours, remove lid, and pick out large cut vegetables. Discard. Add kale, cipollini onions, parsnip, and blanched vegetables to pot, and continue to cook for 15 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
- To serve, place pork into 8 large bowls and then top with vegetables and garnish with micro-greens. Spoon grits into jars and add mushroom ragout.
Chef’s Note: You can also cook the pork cheeks in a pressure cooker for about 40 minutes.
- Bring stock and milk to simmer in saucepan over medium heat. Set aside and keep warm.
- Sweat onion and garlic together in oil in large heavy-bottomed pot (a Dutch oven works well) over medium heat until soft but not browned. Add two-thirds of the hot milk mixture, then whisk in grits.
- Lower heat slightly and cook until grits are tender. Cooking time can vary widely, from 5 minutes for “quick” grits to 40 minutes for stone-ground.
- If grits begin to get too thick while cooking, add remaining milk mixture as necessary. Adjust seasoning and keep warm. At this point you could add a little liquid smoke and physically smoke the entire pan of grits.
- Sweat shallots and garlic together with pinch of salt over medium-high heat, and then add mushrooms. Continue to cook for additional 5 minutes.
- De-glaze pan with sherry and return to boil, and then add cream. Bring to simmer and cook 10-15 minutes until thickened.
- Adjust seasoning, and then add maple syrup and sherry vinegar.
- Combine 2 cups water with sugar in medium sauce pan and bring to boil. Remove from heat, and add apple balls. Cool to reach room temperature before using.
- Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Blanch rutabaga, sweet potato and Brussels sprouts, and then shock in ice water.
- After about 2½ hours, remove lid from stew and pick out large cut vegetables and discard. Season to taste with salt and pepper.