- 4slices of bacon or 4 ounces of panceta, coarsely chopped
- 8Texas Iberico® pork cheeks, whole or cut into 1 ½-inch pieces
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4tbsp olive oil
- 6garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
- 2medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2medium celery stalks, coarsely chopped
- 1medium leek, dark green tops discarded, cleaned and coarsely chopped
- 2medium yellow onions, coarsely chopped
- 2tbsp sherry vinegar with Pedro Ximenez
- 1cup canned fire roasted tomatoes, drained
- 4wood-fire roasted piquillo peppers, (chopped)
- 2tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 2bay leaves
- 3/4tsp cinnamon
- 1/4tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2tsp sweet smoked paprika
- 1/2tsp hot smoked paprika
- 1 1/2tbsp brown sugar (firmly packed)
- 2 1/2(heaping) tbsp honey with Valencia orange peel
- 1oz concentrated beef broth
- 1cup semi-sweet sherry (such as cream or sweet oloroso)
- 1/2bottle fruity red wine (such as Garnacha)
- 1oz (2 squares) taza chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 2tbsp finely chopped parsley or fresh thyme leaves, for garnish
- Crusty bread for serving
In a large heat-proof casserole or heavy bottomed pot, add the bacon and cook over medium heat, stirring until crispy. Transfer bacon to a plate. Add 3 tbsp of the oil to the same casserole and raise heat to medium-high. Using paper towels, pat the pork dry and season generously with salt and black pepper. When oil is hot and shimmering, working in batches add the pork and cook, turning until lightly browned on all sides. Use tongs to transfer to the plate with the bacon, then repeat with the remaining pork.
Turn the heat to medium. Add the garlic, carrots, celery, leeks and onions, and cook until onion is golden brown, adding more oil if needed, about 15 minutes. Add the sherry vinegar to the casserole, raise heat and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring to dislodge any brown bits for 2-3 minutes. Lower heat and add the thyme, bay leaves, tomatoes, piquillo peppers, smoked paprika, cinnamon, honey, brown sugar, cayenne and chocolate. Add the beef broth concentrate, pour in the red wine and stir to combine. Add the pork cheeks and bacon back to the pot, cover with a lid and cook at a low simmer, stirring occasionally until the pork is super tender, about 2 hours. Set aside for 15 minutes to cool. Place in the refrigerator for 6 hours or preferably overnight to allow the flavors to develop.
Remove casserole from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Use tongs to gently transfer the pork to a plate. Place the casserole over low heat allow to simmer until the sauce reduces by about one half. Turn off the heat. Using an immersion blender (or stand blender), thoroughly purée the liquid. Add the pork back to the pot with the sauce, cover and warm over low heat until the meat is heated through, about 10 minutes.
To serve, use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer the cheeks to shallow bowls, then ladle over the sauce and sprinkle with parsley or fresh thyme.
Serve with crusty bread and a fruity Spanish red wine such as the Garnacha used in the stew.