Courtesy Drew Deckman, chef/owner, Deckman’s en El Mogor, Valle de Guadalupe
Pork cheek is an underutilized and economical cut that braises very well. Order them from a butcher, as no other cut makes a perfect substitute. This recipe makes more chutney than you’ll need, but it keeps a long time in the refrigerator and there are plenty of ways to use it.
At his restaurant in the middle of Rancho El Mogor, Georgia transplant Drew Deckman takes advantage of the region’s immense culinary resources. Almost every ingredient at Deckman’s is grown on site or sourced from the immediate vicinity, down to the salt and olive oil.
- 1½ pounds pork cheeks, trimmed of excess fat
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 orange, sliced thin
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 bunch fresh thyme, more for garnish
- 2 medium white onions, quartered and sliced thin
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1½ pounds plum tomatoes, fine-chopped
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups Sherry vinegar
- 1 serrano chile, halved lengthwise
Heat oven to 400˚F. Place pork cheeks on large sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Season with salt and pepper, and cover with orange slices, 2 bay leaves, thyme, half of onions, and half of garlic. Wrap tightly in foil, and place on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until meat breaks apart when prodded by fork, about 90 minutes.
While pork cooks, combine remaining ingredients in medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until it achieves consistency of thick jam, about 1 hour. Remove chile and bay leaf, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Let cool. (This can be prepared and refrigerated up to 2 weeks in advance.)
Remove from oven, and let cool. Carefully remove meat from foil, and strain cooking liquid into saucepan. Skim fat, and simmer liquid over low heat.
Brown cheeks in sauté pan over high heat. Serve with chutney and spoon cooking liquid atop and around cheeks. Garnish with remaining thyme sprigs. Serves 4.
Adobe Guadalupe 2015 Kerubiel (Valle de Guadalupe). This Rhône-style blend combines Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvèdre and Grenache. It has exuberant red fruit with complex earthy and dried-herb notes. This style pairs beautifully with pork, especially with sweet or fruity elements.
“Adobe Guadalupe is a pillar in the Baja wine community, and the entire portfolio is extremely food friendly,” says Deckman. “My personal favorite is Kerubiel. Its earthiness and bold fruit flavors go equally well with the richness of the meat and with the sweet-sour chutney.”
Born in Santiago, Chile, Lonnberg worked at several of the country’s top wineries before he moved to Baja in the early 2000s. At one point, he even worked with Hugo d’Acosta, a 30-year veteran of Baja winemaking.
Lonnberg’s Adobe Guadalupe wines are regularly among the region’s most acclaimed bottlings, as are those from his own Vin Sur project. He also works as a winemaker or consultant for other wineries.