Looking for something a bit more exciting than ordinary pasta, I dug through Tori Haschka’s book A Suitcase and a Spatula for inspiration and came across a recipe for “Pecorino, Pepper & Pig Cheek Pasta”. My search for pig cheeks was fruitless but I did find some ox cheeks, which I’ve never had before so I thought I’d give them a try with more or less the same recipe. This is comfort food – rich, tasty and warming. It’s also weekend food because it’s not the quickest thing to make but worth it if you are having a lazy afternoon.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 125 g / 4 oz streaky bacon
- 1 onion, diced
- 300g / 10 ox ox cheeks, cut into wine cork-sized chunks
- 1 tablespoon plain / all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
- 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
- 1 teaspoon rosemary, finely chopped
- 360 ml / 1 1/2 cups white wine
- 360 ml / 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 potato, halved
- 200 g / 6 1/2 oz linguine
- 70 g / 2 1/2 oz pecorino cheese, grated, plus extra to serve
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (or spice, if you can’t find the fresh one)
Start chopping, slicing, cutting and grating before you do anything else. There’s the garlic, onion, rosemary, potato, bacon and ox cheeks to prepare. That’s always my least favourite part of cooking, but it’s good to get it all out of the way before you start.
Saute the bacon in the olive oil. Once the fat flows out, add the onions. Cook for 10 minutes on medium heat.
Grab a zip lock bag and toss a few spoons of flour and a sprinkling of black pepper inside. Drop in the ox cheek chunks, a few at a time and shake until they are well dusted. Carry on adding extra flour and pepper as needed until finished.
Turn up the heat, add the ox cheeks and cook until browned. Then add in the garlic, rosemary and white wine. When the wine comes to a boil, turn down to medium and cook uncovered for an hour.
(While you wait, check out my food board on Pinterest for more recipe ideas…)
When the hour has passed, top it up with the water, make sure it’s not sticking to the bottom of the pan and pop the cover on for another 45 minutes. Meanwhile, stick the two pieces of potato in a pan with some salt and bring to a boil. (Apparently the potato adds starch to the water; you don’t actually eat the potato, so mashed potatoes for tomorrow night.) Cook the pasta al dente, take the potato out and strain the pasta, saving about 250 ml / 1 cup of the cooking water.
Add the cheese and pepper to the meat.
Mix in the pasta and a bit of the water you saved to create a sauce. Serve it up topped with nutmeg and extra grated cheese.