This dish is all about texture. It has been with me for quite a few years now. I have refined it over the years to essentially just four main components: the soft melting pig cheek, the crisp maltose crackling, the tart prune and the luscious cauliflower cream. The cheek itself is cooked very slowly in a salted chicken stock and then finished in clarified butter. The intramuscular fat of the cheek and a small amount of fat left surrounding the cheek combined with the slow cooking creates an unbelievably soft, rich texture. There’s too much fat between the meat and the skin in the pig cheek to form a natural crackling so, to create the effect, I developed the maltose crackling. Maltose is a liquid sugar derived from malted grains. It has the unique ability to shatter; in contrast to cane sugar, which would become chewy like toffee. Maltose is much less sweet than cane sugar so it makes the perfect faux crackling.
Reheat the cheeks in the bag in a steamer or combi-oven at 85°C (185°F) for 15 minutes or until hot all the way through. Drain the cheeks well and keep warm.
Gently reheat the cauliflower cream, then fold through the whipped cream and season to taste.
Reheat the prunes.
Line a baking tray with silicone paper and place the warmed cheeks on it, leaving enough space between each cheek to top each cheek with a maltose rectangle.
Place 2 prunes in the centre of each warmed serving bowl. Top with half a tablespoon of cauliflower cream then top with a pig cheek. Dress each pig cheek with a teaspoon of prune kernel oil. Serve.
© 2014 All rights reserved. Published by Murdoch Books.