Cider braised pig cheeks with baked potato mash by Tom Simmons

  • Prep time 30 mins
  • Cook time 2 hrs
  • Serves 4


  • 8 pig cheeks (or you can use diced pork shoulder)
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 stick of celery, sliced
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 500ml cider
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 1l chicken stock
  • 6 sprigs of thyme
  • a handful of chives, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • salt and pepper to season

For the mash:

  • 4 medium Maris Piper potatoes, peeled
  • 200g butter
  • 150ml milk
  • 150ml cream


We’ve teamed up with Pembrokeshire-born chef Tom Simmons to show us this cider braised pig cheeks and why we should be choosing to source our pork locally. Tom, of Thomas by Tom Simmons in Pontcanna, Cardiff, is influenced by British and French cuisine and inspired by his Welsh roots. This is a great warming dish if you’re looking for something a little different – but very memorable – to serve for any occasion.

  1. Begin by seasoning the pig cheeks generously with salt. Place four tablespoons of rapeseed oil in a saucepan and place over a high heat. Pat dry the pig cheeks using kitchen towel, place in the saucepan and colour both sides.
  2. Remove the pig cheeks from the pan and reduce to a medium heat, then add the onion and carrot and cook until golden brown.
  3. Add the garlic, celery and mustard and cook for a further minute.
  4. Add the cider, and reduce the liquid by half.
  5. Add all the remaining ingredients, along with the browned pig cheeks, and cook over a low heat for around two hours. If using pork shoulder, cook for around two hours 45 minutes.
  6. After the pig cheeks have been cooking for around 45 minutes, preheat your oven to 190ºC / 170ºC fan / Gas 5. If using pork shoulder, start preheating your oven after around 1½ hours.
  7. Pierce the potatoes and place on a tray of salt in the oven. They should take around one hour to cook so will be ready to coincide with the pork.
  8. Once the pig cheeks are tender, strain the liquid through a sieve and reduce it down by boiling it in a saucepan until you have a thick glaze consistency. Add the pig cheeks back to the glaze. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with finely chopped chives.
  9. Once the potatoes are cooked, cut them in half and scoop out the middles. Put the potatoes through a ricer (or use a masher) and into a saucepan. Add the butter bit by bit whilst stirring over a low heat.
  10. Meanwhile, add the milk and cream to a separate saucepan and bring up to a boil. Once boiling, add the cream mixture to the potatoes a quarter at a time, stirring vigorously to create a silky smooth mash. You can add more cream depending on your preference. Finish by seasoning with salt.
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