This is one of those no-fail, largely hands-off, wintery main courses, in which the oven does all the work.
In fact, the only real heavy-lifting you’ll have to do is procuring the pork cheeks, which is not an easy find at most supermarkets. Nor is it a necessarily inexpensive one, either.
I lucked out in buying mine from California’s only commercial Iberian pig operation, Encina Farms. What makes Iberian pork so sought after is the fact that the pigs are finished on acorns, giving their meat incredible richness. In fact, in Spain, this is the pork that’s cured into luxurious jamon Iberico.
Encina Farms does sell out of pork cheeks fast, especially since there are only two cheeks per pig, of course. But if you are serious about buying some, fill out its contact form online, and the farm owners will either alert you when the cheeks are available or save some for you.
Since last summer, Helmut Drews, a former tech acquisitions specialist, and Madrid-native Alberto Solis, a founder of the San Mateo incubator kitchen known as KitchenTown, have been cultivating a dream.
They have been raising Iberian pigs on their Encina Farms, the only commercial endeavor of its kind in California nurturing these specialty Spanish swines from which the luxurious jamon Iberico derives.
While Encina Farms’ own jamon Iberico is still a few years off — it takes a minimum of two years to cure the buttery ham leg — other pork products made from this distinctive black-footed, acorn-devouring breed can be enjoyed now.