Gerookte varkenswangen Toast – Smoked Pork Cheeks
A few weeks ago I already announced that together with Tendens TV I’ll be making a 4 part series about BBQ (in dutch). The nice thing about this mini-series is the complete freedom I got in working out the content. Today we got to part 1 in which I’m looking for some nice food and drink combinations together with Esteban Casteur, sommelier at the promising restaurant Rebelle (Marke, Belgium). With this Smoked pork cheeks Toast he serves a delicious local wine and for those who want a non-alcoholic drink he serves a stunning alternative. L’antidote is certainly not inferior to the delicious natural wine of the wine domain “het Lijsternest”.
Disclaimer: this post was made in cooperation with Tendens TV. This post contains affiliate links. All opinions expressed are personal and sincere.
I remember it well. The evening when we sat down for the first time at the cozy tables of Restaurant Rebelle. Even before the opening it was announced in the press as a promising restaurant with a vision. Tough, rebellious but with a feminine grace to tie it all together into a top class fine dining experience. The food of Martijn Defauw is excellent and the dessert of the year, “pandan rice”, blew me right out of my socks. Sommelier “Esteban Casteur” made as much impression that evening as his Chef in the kitchen. With a combination of cider and natural wines to accompany the dishes, the sublime menu is elevated to a total experience with balls. I thought he was the right man to join me in the search for some nice drinks for the BBQ. Esteban responded enthusiastically to the proposal. We agree beforehand to get acquainted and test a few things.
A sunny Sunday forms the basis for this first meeting. The sun shines mercilessly hard. The relaxation of the quarantine measures fortunately allows us to see some people again, which gives the contact just that extra dimension. As usual on Sunday, I had overslept again, which meant that the preparations had to be completed in a hurry. Not as good for the nerves when an experienced sommelier forms your audience. However, the meeting soon reassured me. The atmosphere is relaxed and with some hip-hop beats under the blazing sun we soon enjoy our first beer: “Jubel”. A “Barrel aged dark sour ale” matured on sherry barrels. The beer is a collab project by Brouwerij Nevel and Brouwerij Hedonis and forms with its sour notes a nice aperitif while the pork cheeks are still picking up the last smoke.
The pork cheeks are salted in a brine with salt, water, green herbs and some spices that do well with pork. The aniseed flavours add a subtle touch of refinement. After smoking, the smoked pork cheeks are finely sliced and then briefly fried to serve on a piece of lightly baked Turkish bread. The fresh notes are provided by cured radish, horseradish cream and apples, and to finish off the colourful whole, we roughly add some shoots. A cheerful, summery looking simple dish that is fun to serve as a starter. In addition, the smoked pork cheeks are also very tasty to serve as a snack in the form of charcuterie.
After the sour ale Esteban opens a bottle of red wine from the wine domain Lijsternest in Otegem of Servaas. Esteban speaks passionately about the natural process on which the wine is made. The love for the product is reflected in a sheen in the eyes when he sniffs the scent of wine and then puts the gods drink on his lips to subject it to a thorough analysis. My mind listens attentively but barely registers more than the delicious taste of the wine. This way it will take a long time before I will learn anything from wine. Luckily I get a second chance at the actual shoot where Esteban serves the same wine in combination with another surprising selection of drinks. I can share his explanation with you in the post that appeared earlier this week (can be found here). We drink the delicious wine with the Toast of smoked pork cheeks and fresh toppings. A kickstart in the hot afternoon sun.
I created this blog with the purpose of sharing moments of happiness. These were so often related to BBQ and the demand for recipes led me to start writing more and more recipes. The result: “More happy moments seem to arise”. Through this blog I regularly come into contact with fascinating people who are passionate about what they do. Professionally or not. Expanding moments of happiness by sharing them turns out to work. +1 for the Positive Psychology movement. Hopefully you can enjoy this recipe and the accompanying movie on Tendens TV? I’d love to hear it.
A wonderfully refreshing toast with balls. This is how This smoked pork cheek toast could be described the best. Fresh through the horseradish cream and toppings and smoky balls in the form of smoked pork cheeks slow cooked on the Traeger. Served with a nice glass of wine and you're off for a blissful summer evening.
- 4 pork cheeks
- 4 slices of toasted airy bread turkish bread or naan
- 1 l of water
- 50 gr salt
- 1 handful of green herbs thyme, rosemary, oregano, sage,…
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 leaf laurel
- Cress mint or fennel foliage
- 1 sour apple
- pickled radishes
- 2 TBsp Sour cream
- 2 tsp horseradish
- 10 radishes
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey
Mix the ingredients for the brine and lightly heat to boiling point. Leave to cool and place the pork cheeks in it for at least 8 hours.
Remove the pork cheeks from the brine and pat dry.
Prepare your BBQ for an indirect session at low temperature (+-100°C). For this recipe I've used the Traeger Ranger Pellet smoker.
Smoke the pork cheeks +-4-5 hours until they have a nice smoke color and are cooked (minimum 75°C).
Meanwhile, mix the ingredients for the brine for radishes.
Cut the radishes into 8 slices and place in the brine.
Toast the Turkish bread or the Naan on the BBQ
Mix the sour cream with horseradish and spread over the bottom of the buns.
Place a few fine slices of the pork cheek on top and finish with fine strips (julienne) of sour apple and pickled radishes. Brighten up with Atsina cress or fennel leaves.