Different recipe for the weekend – braised pigs’ cheeks

Pigs' cheeks make lovely crackling, says chef David Swallow.
Pigs' cheeks make lovely crackling, says chef David Swallow.

David Swallow, head chef at The Chestnuts at Gedney, remembers his grandmother roasting pigs’ cheeks for the family.

He says: “My grandparents were smallholders and reared their own pigs, and had two each year for their own use from when they were married in 1902 until the early 1950s.”

This is David’s recipe for Slow Braised Pigs’ Cheeks on a bed of apple, sage and onion, with creamed cabbage and parsnip puree, to serve four.


2 pigs’ cheeks

2 or 3 dessert apples (Cox or Royal Gala), skin on, de-cored and cut into ⅛s

2 large onions, peeled and sliced

10 sage leaves, rough chopped

Salt & pepper

Vegetable oil

1 ltr chicken stock

For the creamed Savoy cabbage:

1 medium Savoy cabbage

2-3 tbsp single cream

Salt & pepper

For the parsnip puree:

3 medium parsnips, peeled and rough chopped

Salt & pepper

Grated nutmeg


Pre-heat oven 220oC. Wash and dry pigs’ cheeks. Score skin to create strips of crackling. In a roasting tin place sliced onion, apple eights and sage leaves. Season with salt and ground black pepper. Lightly oil the pigs’ cheek skins and sprinkle with salt, work this into skin for a few minutes. Place the two cheeks on top of the onion and apples and pour in sufficient chicken stock to barely cover these. Cover with tin foil and place on top shelf of oven. Cook for 2-2½ hours or until cheeks are tender. At this point remove foil, return to oven to brown and crisp the crackling, this should take around half an hour.

Split cabbage in half lengthways, remove hard core and shred horizontally, wash and drain. Steam or boil until tender. Drain, lightly season and lightly coat with single cream. Peel and rough chop the parsnip, steam until tender. Puree with a blender and add grated nutmeg to taste.