A miraculous transformation occurs to tough cuts of meat when they are cooked slowly in the oven. The low steady heat, which initially seizes up the muscle into tight chewy fibres, eventually relaxes it into tender, pullable threads. As the internal temperature of the meat reaches 70C the hard collagen melts into moist gelatine, adding wonderful flavour and succulence to the meat fibres.
The downside to low, slow cooking in liquid is that the surface of the meat will never get hot enough to brown. Browning the meat produces the Maillard reaction and caramelisation , which creates hundreds of tasty compounds, so it is important to sear the meat first.
Once the pork cheek is browned remove from the pot, reduce the heat, add a drop more oil and cook a mirepoix of onion, carrot, celeriac & leek until soft. Return the meat to the pan. Add a few aromatics such as bay, thyme & anise, pour in a suitably flavoured stock, bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook at 150C for about 2 hours.