If you read the post from earlier this week with founding members of Bricker Cider, Nick Farrer & Russell Moore, this is a bonus track you might say to help showcase their coming release. Their Brett Cider is due out next month and the accompanying recipe features just such a thing as a key ingredient. “Brett”, short for Brettonamyces is a wild yeast commonly found growing on fruit skins. Now if you’re reading this and you’ve never had cider before, this probably shouldn’t be your first taste introduction. When you inoculate a cider with “Brett”, the resulting profile is… “funky” (see below link). Popular in the Basque region of Spain and parts of France, this isn’t everyone’s cup of apple juice. If you are about to have a hard cider for the first time, best to try one of Brickers other offerings and build up to this one. But for those who are fans of the funk, there’s a big following. The release hasn’t been made official yet but the guys very generously let me feature advance word.
Pork Cheek, Black Pudding and Butter Bean Stew with Brett Cider
A recipe I originally found by Marcus Verberne, this is in my top 2 stews of all time. It’s rich, sticks to your ribs and is absolutely delicious. The original has since been taken off the web but apparently a few other people agreed with my view of the greatness of this dish and posted it themselves. I borrowed the below from myTaste (with a few adjustments).
- 1 398ml tin of butter beans
- 8 pork cheeks, trimmed of outer fat
- 50 g of flour
- olive oil
- 40 g butter
- 3 carrots, roughly chopped
- 2 leeks, roughly chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- small handful thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 500 ml dry “Brett” affected cider (Strongbow or similar can be substituted if you can’t find one with Brett. Just not quite the same)
- 1200 ml chicken stock
- 500 ml beef stock
- 1/2 whole black pudding (typically available at the butcher shops on the Coast).
- seasoning to taste
Preheat your oven to 150ºC / 300 f. Season the pork cheeks with salt and pepper and place them into a large plastic bag (without holes). Add the flour to the bag and holding the bag closed at the top, give them a good shake, coating them with the flour. Remove the cheeks from the bag and save the flour for later.
Heat a large saucepan over a high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and fry the floured pork cheeks until evenly browned, transfer the sealed cheeks to a braising or casserole dish.
Turn the frying pan heat down to medium and add the butter, carrot, leek, garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Allow to cook for about 4–5 minutes, stirring regularly to release any tasty morsels left behind by the pork cheeks. Cook until the vegetables are soft and slightly caramelised.
Stir in 3/4 tbsp of reserved flour and tomato purée and cook for another minute, stirring continuously so they don’t catch on the bottom of the pan. Stir in the cider, a little at a time so that lumps don’t form. Once all of the cider has been added, pour in the stocks and bring to the boil.
Pour the liquid and all the vegetables over the pork cheeks, then cover the dish with a lid or foil. Place in the oven, and cook for 2 hours, until the cheeks are tender.
Once the pork cheeks are tender, remove them from the oven and lift out of the braising dish with a slotted spoon. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into a large saucepan or casserole. Bring the sauce up to the boil over a medium heat, before reducing to a simmer. Give the sauce a good skim with a ladle, removing any fat that may be collecting on the surface. If the sauce appears a little thin, reduce it slightly until it has reached the desired consistency, then add the butter beans.
Break the black pudding into large nuggets and add them to the pan. Allow the black pudding to cook for 2–3 minutes only return the cheeks to warm through and serve.