How to cook pork cheeks

Escape How to Cook Pork Cheeks Recipe 3 Marconia Schembri.jpg

How to cook pork cheeks in today’s Sunday Times. All photos taken during a live tv show by Marconia Schembri and CJ Baldacchino

Pork cheeks used to be an affordable and inexpensive cut of meat but during the last eight to 10 years, they have been popularised by many top chefs and today they are a fashionable ingredient. Cheeks are particularly flavourful, but they are not readily available and need to be ordered from a…

Source: Cooking pork cheeks

‘My pork cheeks come from Stephanie at Ta’ Cancu Butcher in Zejtun ‘

Amatriciana with fresh pork cheek


Guanciale on tv today, photos were taken during a live show by CJ Baldacchino

Stephanie prepared some pork cheeks for me to cook.  We braised a few cheeks the other week and served it as a stew with vegetables.  Today’s dish however is based on a classic Amatriciana sauce with guanciale.  The sauce is made with fresh tomatoes and has no onions and garlic but to try out something a bit different I used a mix of guanciale with cooked fresh pork cheeks and sausages that  Stephanie made specially for me using pork cheeks.  You must try this pasta.’

For the Amatriciana Sauce, you will need:

100g guanciale
120g fresh cooked pork cheeks
50g fresh sausage made from pork cheeks [specially ordered from the butcher]
500g fresh tomatoes, chopped with skin on
a glass of wine
1 all natural stock cube mixed with 100ml water
1 tablespoon tomato paste
a bayleaf
A pinch of dried chili flakes
salt and pepper
a pinch of stevia
150g pecorino

And 500g pasta of your choice

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet.
In the meantime, cut a thickish slice of guanciale and then chop it up.

Heat the pan with no oil and then fry the guanciale. Chop the cooked pork cheeks. When the guanciale is cooked add the chopped pork cheeks, then the sausage meat.

Add the chopped fresh tomatoes, then the wine and turn the heat down. Add the stock, bayleaf and chili flakes. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes or until the tomatoes start to soften up. Add the tomato paste and if necessary add water. Do not let it dry up. The sauce will start to thicken. Season with salt and pepper and add a pinch of stevia to balance the acidity.

Drain the cooked pasta in a colander and save some pasta water to add to the sauce if it is too dry.

Add the sauce to the pasta and mix gently. If necessary add the pasta water, a spoonful at a time. Serve in individual plates and top with freshly grated pecorino.


Smoked guanciale and fresh pork cheeks, photo taken during a live tv show by CJ Baldacchino

Serve immediately.


Good Food Everyday with Amatricana, photo taken during a live tv show by CJ Baldacchino


Fresh pork cheeks and fresh pork cheek sausages are available from Stephanie at Ta Cancu Butcher in Zejtun.  Guanciale is available from PJ Sutters.  I use Pasta Rummo.

Braised Pork Cheeks on spaghetti


This photo was taken by Marconia Schembri during a live tv show.’

This slow cooked pork cheeks is amazing as the meat is so soft and nearly melts in your mouth. This is a very simple and straightforward recipe. Pork cheeks are not readily available and you will need to pre-order them from your butcher.’

You will need:

4 pork cheeks
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 large courgette
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
150ml wine
400g canned chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs
1 all natural stock cube
100g guanciale (or pancetta), cubed
a grating of fresh turmeric
a pinch of stevia
salt and pepper to season

To serve: Spaghetti

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Heat the olive oil in large pot over high heat. Add the pork cheeks and brown the surface on both sides to seal the meat. Remove from the pan and leave aside.

In the same pot, add the chopped guanciale or pancetta, cook then add the garlic, the onions on medium heat. Add the carrots and courgettes and stir. Lower the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the wine, tinned tomatoes, turmeric and fresh herbs.  Stir then season with salt and pepper and add a pinch of stevia.  Cook for 5 minutes then add the browned pork cheeks and coat with the sauce. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Turn off the heat, season with salt and pepper and cover the pot.  Place it in the oven. Allow the pork to cook slowly in the oven for 3 hours. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 15 minutes before serving.

In the meantime cook the spaghetti according to the instructions on the pack.
Serve the pork cheeks on a bed of spaghetti.


Pork cheeks, this photo was taken by Marconia Schembri during a live tv show.

I use pork cheeks [Majjal ta’ Malta] from Ta Cancu Butcher in Zejtun, fresh vegetables and herbs by Big Fresh and Barbuto [organic], stock cubes by Kallo at Good Earth, canned tomatoes by Victoria Brand, herbs and spices by Schwartz and spaghetti by Fibre Pasta.

Kawlata Stew with Buckwheat


Kawlata Stew with Buckwheat.  This photo was taken during a live tv show by Marconia Schembri

Traditionally a thick soup, I use smoked ham hock and the same ingredients to make this Kawlata stew and serve it with buckwheat.

You will need:

1 smoked ham hock [xikel], cut into 3 chunks
3 rashers bacon, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
small piece of shredded cabbage (optional)
1/4 medium cauliflower
1 zucchini
100g carrots
250g chopped pumpkin
1 kohlrabi [gibra], peeled and chopped
200g buckwheat
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tomato chopped
1 large potato, peeled and chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
200g mixed beans, cooked
Bay leaf
Olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon fresh turmeric root, grated
Parsley to garnish (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, a drizzle of freshly squeezed lemon and a bit of freshly grated lemon zest

Immerse the smoked ham hock pieces in water in a large pot and add a bay leaf. Cook over high heat until the water starts to boil, then simmer for 1 hour. Remove from heat and allow the ham hock pieces to cool down. Remove the outer skin and excess fat and chop into small bite size pieces. Keep aside.

Use a large ovenproof pot to sweat the onion in a drizzle of olive oil, add the garlic and bacon. Cook for a few minutes and stir then add the other vegetables and bay leaf. Cook on high heat and stir. Add the chopped tomatoes. Add the herbs. Use the stock from boiling the ham hock to add liquid to the vegetables. Add a ladle at a time, not to much. Add the cooked beans. Cook on high heat and then mix in the buckwheat. Remove from heat. Break up some piece of ham hock and serve on top.
Season. Remove and leave to rest covered for 5 to 10 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

Kawlata stew with ham hock.jpg

Kawlata Stew with Buckwheat.  This photo was taken during a live tv show by marconia Schembri

My ham hock comes from Ta Ciancu Butcher in Zejtun, vegetables and fresh herbs by Big Fresh Mosta, buckwheat  by Dr Peak’s Free From and dried herbs and spices by Schwartz.

Pork Meatball Traybake

pork meatball traybake goodfoodeveryday

Quick pork meatball traybake, photo taken during a live tv show by Debbie Farmer

‘an ideal all-in-one supper or to feed a large crowd  for Sunday lunch.  I always choose local pork’

For the pork meatballs you will need:

300g pork mince
25g finely chopped bacon
60g gluten free oats
1/4 teaspoon dried mixed spice
1 teaspoon mustard
1 egg
salt and pepper

Mix all the ingredients together, form small balls and place on a plate covered with baking paper.  If you have time refrigerate for half an hour.  If you do not have time, they will still retain their shape.

For the rest of the traybake, you will  need:
6 slices of Maltese Bread (or similar sourdough)
1 sweet potato, skin on and diced
6 tomatoes, skin on and diced
1 eggplant, diced
half a butternut squash, cooked, peeled,roughly chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 orange bell pepper chopped
fresh chives, finely chopped
2 potatoes, skin on and finely sliced
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 sundried tomatoes
1 tablespoon capers
1/4 tablespoon pink pepper corns
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Prepare an ovenproof dish by brushing it with olive oil.
Brush the Maltese bread with olive oil on both sides.
Line the dish with the slices of Maltese bread.
Then arrange the vegetables on top of the bread, starting with the cooked sweet potato tomatoes, coloured peppers, butternut squash, eggplant and finishing off with the meatballs.  Sprinkle crushed peppercorns, coriander, capers and salt and pepper.

Brush the slices of potato with olive oil and sprinkle some sesame seeds.  Line the sides of the dish with sliced potatoes.

Bake in a preheated oven at 200C for 50 minutes.
Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

Tip: If you do not like the taste of pink peppercorns used crushed fennel instead


Trade Enquiries:  Majjal ta’ Malta, Telephone 21 236 340

Kale parcels of pork

kale meat balls felix cesare

Served on brown rice these kale parcels are steamed in an infusion of fresh turmeric  and delicate aromatic spices

‘I make parcels of kale stuffed with very lean ground pork and steam them in an infusion of  fresh turmeric and delicate aromatic spices.  What can I add?  just expect amazing textures and flavors…’

You will need:

250g pork mince
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 onion, finely chopped and cooked
1 tablespoon fresh herbs, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon provence herbs
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
a pinch of ground cloves
30g oats
a pinch of lemon zest
1 egg
salt and pepper
1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Kale leaves
Brown rice to serve

Mix the pork, lemon zest, onion, garlic, herbs, egg, herbs, oats and all the ingredients together to make a consistent mixture.  Leave to rest for an hour if you can in the fridge so that the oats absorb all the liquid.  Roll into small balls.

Remove the center stalk from the kale and cut the leaves into long strips.  Steam for a few minutes in a steamer until they are barely soft.  Do not over do it.

Immediately wrap the balls into the kale leaves making small parcels and tuck in the loose end underneath.  Prepare a steamer with water and add pieces of fresh turmeric, 2 whole cloves, a few leaves of fresh marjoram, a cinnamon stick and a garlic clove and allow the steam from this infusion to cook the kale parcels for 20 minutes.

I served my kale parcels on a bed of brown rice.  Drizzle with some olive oil before serving.
kale meat balls felix cesare 2
My ingredients are available from

Veronica’s pumpkin and bacon muffins

Veronica's Pumpkin Cheddar and Bacon Muffins

Veronica’s Pumpkin Cheddar and Bacon Muffins Photography Ian Noel Pace

Pumpkin feast is celebrated in a beautiful village up North during the month of October every year. Veronica from Manikata was our tv guest this week and this is her recipe for Pumpkin muffins with cheddar and bacon. They were delicious and you will need:

80ml olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
250g pumpkin cut into very small cubes
100g grated cheddar
150g white gbejna (if you are not on the islands, use a semi hard white goats cheese)
100g bacon
2 eggs
300ml semi skimmed or skimmed milk
375g self raising flour
Salt and pepper to season if desired

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan and saute the chopped onion and crushed garlic. Stir and cook on moderate heat until they soften. Add the chopped bacon and cook for 5 minutes. Add the chopped pumpkin. Cook for another 5 minutes and remove from heat.

Allow the mixture to cook.
Sift the flour and add the salt and pepper if you are using it.
Add the grated cheeses and leave aside 3 spoonfuls to garnish the top.
In a separate container stir the milk, eggs and olive oil.
Add the cooled down bacon and pumpkin mix to the flour and mix gently to ensure that the pieces are covered with a light film of flour.
Add the cheese, gently mix and finally the liquids.
Spoon the mixture into paper cases in a muffin tin. Top each muffin with the grated cheese mix. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until they are golden brown at 190C. This makes 8 large muffins or 16 small ones.
Thank you Veronica !

Fresh Fruit and Vegetables from #Manikata Farmers

Fresh Fruit and Vegetables from #Manikata Farmers Photography Ian Noel Pace

Photos Ian Noel Pace

So tender and moist crockpot pork that falls apart

Local pork is the best #Majjal ta Malta

Local pork is the best #Majjal ta Malta [Photo Ian Noel Pace]

There is nothing easier or more delicious than this dish.

Here pork is simply the best, the flavor, the texture and freshness is unmatched, certainly to that in any other part of the world I have been.

If you are a visitor on the island do not leave without trying local pork 🙂

Pulled pork is usually cooked on a barbecue but here is a simple version in a crockpot and I add the sugary ingredients to the sauce rather than the pork so that anyone who does not wish to consume too much sugar has a choice. Believe me the end result in mini burger buns which I will post very soon was as close to the bbq version as you can get.

For this simple recipe you will need:

Boneless, skinless pork shoulder #Majjal ta Malta

Boneless, skinless pork shoulder #Majjal ta Malta [Photo Ian Noel Pace]

1 boneless pork shoulder, ask your butcher to remove the skin too
half a tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 giant clove garlic or 2 small ones, grated
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
half a teaspoon instant espresso coffee powder
1 large onion

The whole point of using a slow cooker is to save time. For this recipe, all you need to do is lightly brush the inside of the crockpot with a little bit of olive oil. Drop the pork shoulder into it, then sprinkle all the other ingredients. The coffee heightens the flavor of the meat, you will not taste it when it is cooked.

Cover the crockpot and cook until the pork is fork tender, for around 8 hours on a regular setting. I like to do mine overnight or sometimes turn it on just before I leave in the morning and I am always so pleased have a fantastic meal to return to, prepared without much effort.

Turn off the slow cooker and place the pork to a cutting board. Using 2 forks, shred the meat into bite-sized pieces, discarding any large pieces of fat. Taste and season with salt if necessary.

Moist and succulent slow cooked pork shoulder

Moist and succulent slow cooked pork shoulder [Photo Gino Galea]

I served mine as it is with potatoes and we also filled some mini burgers and topped the pork with a home made barbecue sauce, all to be posted here very soon. Adding the bbq sauce as an option was welcomed by those who follow sugar free diets.

Ftira with Pulled Pork


Delicious Maltese #ftira with traditional kunserva, giardinera and pulled pork as seen on TV

Delicious Maltese #ftira with traditional kunserva, gardinera and pulled pork as seen on TV

We have what is probably one of the best sourdough breads in the world. The small old fashioned bakeries are still active and alive and the hub of nearly every village and town.

Old village bakery in the heart of a Mediterranean village

Old village bakery in the heart of a Mediterranean village

Fermented slowly the bread is crunchy and crusty with the inside, moist, light and an overall flavor that is unique.

Crusty and crunchy with the softest of interiors, Maltese bread, freshly baked a few times a day

Crusty and crunchy with the softest of interiors, Maltese bread, freshly baked a few times a day

For my recipe I use ftira flat loaf topped with sesame seed. Traditionally these loaves are dipped in olive oil and lightly spread with tomato paste with an optional addition is tuna.

Traditionally #ftira with tuna

Traditionally #ftira with tuna

I replaced tuna with slow cooked pulled pork during our tv programme, a very delicious result.

Ftira with pulled pork as seen on ONE TV

Ftira with pulled pork as seen on ONE TV

You will need:

1 Ftira
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
100g gardiniera
100g cherry tomatoes, halved and I use a mix of red and yellow ones
a few mint leaves
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
20g olives, sliced
150g pulled pork which I prepared in my crockpot, see recipe follows:

To make the pulled pork in a slow cooker, you will need:

1 kilo shoulder of pork
1/4 onion
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper
150ml bbq sauce [home made or shop bought
1 clove garlic
250ml water

Place all the ingredients in the slow cooker and cook for 6 hours on medium heat or overnight on slow heat.  Use a fork to shred.

To assemble the ftira:

Place the olive oil in a flat plate. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cut the ftira in half and dip the cut surface into the olive oil. Spread with tomato puree. Top with pulled pork, then the giardinera, fresh tomatoes, olives and finally mint leaves. Serve.

Lea’s Good Food Everyday airs on Smash TV and you can follow on facebook 

#ftira with pulled pork

#ftira with pulled pork

Photography Ian Noel Pace during a live tv show

Trade Enquiries:  Majjal ta’ Malta Telephone 21 236 340

Tinned Tomato Preserves by X-tra at Rimus Group

Tim Byres from Smoke in Dallas on ONE TV

Tim's BBQ rub on local pork

Tim’s BBQ rub on local pork

Anton and I cooked with Tim Byres at the residence of the USA Ambassador and to watch Tim making the rub click here . This was aired on ONE TV.

Thank you Tim

Thank you Tim

Tim’s special coffee and smoked paprika rub heightens the flavor of bbq meats. It is a winner and we enjoyed tasting various rubs sprinkled on slices of mozzarella and fresh vegetables.

With Anton and Tim, ONE TV

With Anton and Tim, as seen on ONE TV

For the rub you will need:

1\4 cup finely ground dark roast coffee
1\4 cup dark chili powder
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons salt
1\4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cumin

To make the spice mix, measure out all the ingredients into a medium sized mixing bowl. Break down any clumps of paprika or brown sugar with gloved or clean dry hands and thoroughly incorporate all the ingredients into an even, well mixed blend.

Completely rub your steaks (enough for 4 large steaks) with the spice mix and leave some to season the plate before serving. Grill the seasoned steaks over an open flame until rare to medium rare, then remove from grill and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Kitchen of the residence of USA Ambassador, as seen on ONE TV

Kitchen of the residence of USA Ambassador, as seen on ONE TV

Photography Gino Galea