Pork cheek is a brilliant and extremely cheap cut of meat which, when braised like this, is meltingly tender and falls apart with the touch of fork. It can be difficult to get but any good butcher or even your supermarket will order some in for you if you ask in advance. The braised pork cheek recipe can be used as a very tastey alternative to bolognese or ragu.
If you don’t have the time or energy to make fresh pasta try using pre-made wonton wrappers or simply use as a sauce for spaghetti or the like.
I am not too sure which shape of stuffed pasta equates to which title, so once again, I apologise to any purists.
For the fresh egg pasta
- 3 eggs, plus the yolk of 6
- 500g of pasta flour
- Semolina for dusting
- Whisk the eggs and the egg yolks until combined.
- Place the flour in a food processor. Blitz gently and slowly add the egg in a constant stream. Keep blitzing until you get a smooth dough (you may need to add a few drops of water if the mixture is too dry). Don’t do as I did and leave the processor unattended, it can become fairly vibrant, resulting in my beloved processor falling to the floor and breaking the lid of the bowl.
- Wrap the pasta dough in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
- Once chilled, sprinkle your surface liberally with fine semolina and break the dough into 3 or 4 pieces. Set the pasta machine to its widest (thickest) setting and feed the first piece of pasta through the machine to create a long flat sheet. Fold the pasta sheet in half, set your pasta machine to the next widest setting and feed through again. Repeat this process until you reach the thinnest setting. If your pasta becomes too sticky then dust with more semolina, if it becomes too long to handle then simply cut in half.
For the braised Pork Cheek filling
- 12 pork cheeks
- 4 carrots (peeled and diced)
- 1 red onion (diced)
- 1 chilli (finely diced)
- 4 cloves of garlic (crushed)
- 4 whole star anise
- 1 tblsp soy sauce
- Decent Red Wine
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 tin of plum tomatoes
- Pre-heat the oven to 160C.
- Pat the pork cheeks dry and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Sear in an oven proof pan until nicely browned – the more colour, the more flavour – and remove from the frying pan.
- Turn down the heat and fry the onion, carrot and chilli with the star anise. Once soft, add the crushed garlic and fry for a further 30 seconds or so.
- Add the cheeks with the soy sauce and top up with red wine so as to just cover the cheeks.
- Pop in the oven for around 3 hours.
To make the ravioli
- Remove the pork cheek mixture from the oven and allow to cool. Once cool, remove the cheeks and any other solids with a slotted spoon, reserving the juices, and place in a separate bowl. Break up the cheeks with a fork.
- Take one of the sheets of pasta and lay it on a surface which is dusted with semolina. Cut the sheet into 4cm squares Place 2 tsp of the pork mixture in the centre of every second square. Use your own judgement here as to how much filling each piece of pasta will hold.
- Brush around each portion with a little cold water, then use the squares with no filling to cover the mixture.
- Pinch the edges of the dough together, forcing out any air bubbles.
- Place the ravioli onto a large tray dusted with fine semolina. Cover with cling film until needed.
- Repeat the process with the remaining pasta dough and the remaining filling mixture until all of the pasta and filling have been used up.
- Place the reserved braising liquid on the hob at a medium heat and add the tin of tomatoes – this will act as your sauce.
- Carefully pop the ravioli into a large pan of salted boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes until the pasta is al dente. Drain the ravioli and place on serving plates.
- Drizzle the pasta with the sauce and top with a little grated Parmesan.