Mark Hix recipe: Crispy pig's cheek and dandelion salad

Serves 6-8

A dish that could be accused of being a mere salad, but I see it as a good lunch. It can also be an accompanying salad to roast leg or shoulder of pork. Ask a butcher for pigs' cheeks; you need the skin and fat on, not just the meat.

4 pigs' cheeks
300-400g duck or goose fat
12 shallots, peeled and left whole
12 gloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
4 x 2cm-thick slices of good bread
A bunch of dandelion leaves, washed and dried
3tbsp extra-fine capers, rinsed
3tbsp chopped parsley

For the vinaigrette

2tbsp white wine or cider vinegar
1tbsp Dijon mustard
2tbsp olive oil
3tbsp rapeseed oil

Put your cheeks on a non-reactive baking tray, scatter with handfuls of sea salt and leave overnight in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 175C/gas mark 4. Rinse off the cheeks thoroughly and dry with some kitchen paper. Lay them in a deepish oven dish with the shallots and garlic and cover with duck or goose fat. Cover with foil or a lid and cook them in the oven for approximately 3 hours. Keep an eye on them; they need to be tender but not falling apart.

When they are done, remove from the oven and allow to cool in the fat. At this point you could keep the cheeks covered in the fat and allow to cool in the fridge for a rainy day, or proceed by removing them from the fat. Scrape off any excess with your fingers and keep the fat for future use.

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Put the pigs' cheeks in a roasting tray on the slices of bread and roast for about 1-1½hours, until crisp. Remove the bread if it's getting too hard as it needs to be used for the croutons.

Meanwhile, whisk all of the listed ingredients together for the vinaigrette and season to taste.

To serve, cut the cheeks into rough 2cm chunks and toss them with the dandelion, parsley, capers, croutons and vinaigrette and season to taste.

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