Pork cheeks braised with Normandy apple cider and violet artichokes

The finished dish
The finished dish

Tiny violet artichokes are one of the joys of late spring.  The pale green new leaves are tender enough to eat whole, especially if slowly braised.  Pairing them with rich, meaty pork cheeks simmered in Normandy apple cider, is a sure winner; the region of Normandy is known for pork, apples and artichokes so it is a natural pairing,  This recipe is short on specifics because making a good stew doesn’t require specifics, you just follow your nose.


  1. The day before, marinate the pork cheeks with Normandy apple cider to just cover and a splash of apple cider vinegar.  Add carrots, onions and garlic, peeled and cut in medium dice. Add a bay leaf, a sprig of thyme, a few peppercorns and a clove or two.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Trim the artichokes, leaving only the inner, light green leaves. If the artichokes are small, it is not necessary to remove the inner choke. As the artichokes are trimmed, put them into water acidified with vinegar or lemon juice to keep them from browning.
  3. In a heavy, lidded dutch oven, sear off the artichokes in a little vegetable oil and butter until they are nicely colored on all sides and starting to get tender in the stem.  The leaves will still be tough. Season with salt and pepper, then remove and set aside.
  4. Drain the pork cheeks, separating out the cheeks, the marinade vegetables and the marinade liquid.
  5. Season the cheeks with salt and pepper, then coat lightly with flour. Sear off the cheeks in the same dutch oven with fresh oil and butter until nicely colored on all sides. Remove the cheeks and drain most of the oil, then add the veggies and sweat for several minutes until they start to soften.  Return the cheeks to the pan. De-glaze with the marinade, adding more cider as needed for the liquid to just cover the meat and veggies (or use chicken or pork stock to top up the liquid if you have it).
  6. Bring to a boil, skim off any foam that forms, then reduce the heat to the slowest simmer.  Cover and continue to cook on very low heat or in a 250 degree oven.  Cook until the pork cheeks are very tender, 2-3 hours.
  7. If you like, add a little heavy cream or crème fraîche for richness (not strictly necessary but delicious!). Season the stew with salt and pepper, then add the seared artichokes and continue to simmer until they are tender.  Correct the seasoning as needed, then finish the sauce by stirring in a knob of cold butter off the heat and stirring until fully incorporated.
  8. Enjoy!  I served this with rustic potato puree (basically boiled potatoes crushed with salt, pepper, cold butter and a splash of heavy cream) but buttered egg noodles would be great also.



Tagged , , ,

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top