Tagliatelle With Pesto, Pig Cheeks And Crispy Onions

Tagliatelle pesto pasta with pig cheeks

We appreciate that "odd" cuts of meat make some people, even the most dedicated carnivores, a little queasy, but for our money, pig cheeks are hands down the very best part of the animal.

There's a reason why you don't tend to find them on butchers' counters. In part, it's because they are remarkably cheap and don't bring in the revenues of prime cuts. The main reason, though, is that your butcher knows how good they are and is keeping them to herself.

Spoiler alert
If the idea of eating pig cheeks offends you, you should probably avoid sausages from here on in.

Pro tip
Cooking the cheeks for 9 hours in a 77°C water bath is our ultimate way to cook them, as it gives them a braise-like, melt-in-your-mouth texture that is virtually impossible to replicate using any other cooking method.

Ingredients for two

Tagliatelle 150g
Pesto 100g
Pig cheeks x4-6
Onion x1
Parsley to garnish

Pork cheeks are very much a "low and slow" cut of meat, so you're going to have to give this dish some forward planning. You can speed things up dramatically by using a pressure cooker, or you can take the easiest option and use a slow cooker.

If you don't have either of these, the safest way is to braise the cheeks in a tasty liquor, cider complements pork brilliantly, in a 160°C oven for around 3-hours.

While your meat is cooking, finely slice an onion and deep-fry in a couple of inches of neutral oil (canola, rapeseed, or peanut are all good options) until brown and crispy. Drain on a paper towel and set aside.

When your pork cheeks are just about ready, cook the pasta in lightly salted water until al dente and drain, reserving a little of the water it cooked in. Stir through the pesto and pasta water, and top with the pig cheeks.

Sprinkle with the crispy onions and parsley, and apply to your face.