How-To Guides

How to cook a whole pork cheek

Full, rind-on pork cheek, uncooked.

What is a whole pork cheek?

Pork cheeks are simply the cheeks of pigs — a muscle that gets plenty of work and requires long, slow cooking to achieve the best results. As with many hard-working cuts, with the correct treatment, they are packed with flavour. Our pig cheeks come from free-range, native-breed pigs that have been slowly reared and exercised well. These processes produce a delicious muscle full of flavour that embodies the nose-to-tail philosophy of Swaledale Butchers. 

The cheeks come in the whole, with the rind on, enabling you to explore multiple options when cooking or home curing. We do not sell the pork cheek as an oyster cut, as the demand would be so great that we would have to revert to the skullduggery often embraced by other butchers and buy them in, often from non-free range pigs. 

What does whole pork cheek taste like?

Pig cheeks have an incredible depth of flavour. They will often take on the characteristics of the cooking liquor, so make sure you pick something you would enjoy drinking (not that old, opened bottle of wine that is now closer to a vinegar).

How long does it take to cook a whole pork cheek?

Removing the oyster muscle from the cheek means you can braise these in around 3-4 hours. Cooking them as whole cheeks can result in a further 1-2 hours of cooking time. Chef Valentine Warner roasts the pig cheeks quickly before thinly slicing them. 

How to cook a whole pork cheek

  1. Bring the cheeks to room temperature.
  2. Set your oven to 135ºC. 
  3. Cut away any excess fat with a sharp knife or scissors.
  4. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  5. Using an oven-proof casserole dish, start by browning your cheeks. Once browned, set them aside. 
  6. In the casserole dish, begin cooking down your soffrito.  
  7. Deglaze the pan with your chosen cooking liquor and chicken stock. 
  8. Put the pig cheeks back into the dish, and cover with the cooking liquid. 
  9. Place in the centre of the oven and cook for approximately 3 hours. 
  10. The cheeks are ready when they can be pierced with a fork. 

Top tips for cooking a whole pork cheek

  • Cooking liquor such as cider, beer, stout, wine, and sherry can be used to cook your pig cheeks in. Just make sure you save another bottle to enjoy with the meal.

Pigs cheek recipe