Whiting with cured pigs cheeks, broad beans & perry

So what do you do with your cured pigs’ cheek, once you’ve got it? Use instead of bacon, or the absurdly over-priced and variable pancetta. That’s what I’ve done in this recipe, which could do as a fancy-ish fish course in a multi-course effort, or as a simple supper on its own. Not quite on its own, of course. Cheese and fruit afterwards,  and maybe a boiled potato or two to stretch it out. It shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to make.

Whiting is an exemplary fish – delicate, dainty, flaky, sustainable. Thank the Lord for that. So much better than utterly nugatory pollock. Broad beans sit very happily with both fish and the meat. Using perry to make the sauce brings a very agreeable dryness and lightness to the dish. Not really a sauce, just the pig fat and perry married by heat. I  also added some tiny sprigs of summer savory at the end. It’s the classic herb for broad beans, and also has a certain peppery lemon asperity which is also pretty damn good in context. But don’t worry if you can’t get it.

Note. If you ever want a replacement for smoked bacon or smoked pancetta, you might find boczek, Polish smoked belly pork, a more than adequate replacement. Actually, rather better than either.

Serves 4

1 kg broad beans

4 whiting fillets each weighing about 150g

8 slices of cured pig’s cheek

½ bottle perry

Summer savory (optional)

Salt & pepper



Chop cured pig’s cheek into strips and fry until crisp. Lift out and drain on kitchen towel. Keep warm. Pour the perry into the pan and set to the boil to reduce and emulsify the perry and the pork fat. Pod the beans and boil in bottom of a steamer. Put the whiting fillets in one of the upper chambers of your steam. You may need to use two if you have them. You can always layer the fillets in a steamer on pieces of foil. Steam for about 5 minutes. Whiting does not take long. Keep the fish warm. Drain the broad beans. If they are those large, coarse fellow, you may need to cook them a little longer. You will certainly need to pop them out of their grey sacks. If you’re lucky to grow Stereo or Crimson Flowered broad beans, you won’t need to because they never get gross. Check the reduced perry and pork fat. You need enough for 4 people. Distribute the beans and crunchy cured porky bits between the plates, plonk the whiting fillets on top, drop a few tiny springs of summer savory if you’ve got it, season lightly, and the dribble the perry ‘n’ pork fat juices over it all.

One thought on “Whiting with cured pigs cheeks, broad beans & perry

  1. Hello Matt,

    Have you ever come across a cure recipe for making boczek? I regularly make my own guanciale, bacon, etc., but I’ve had no luck so far tracking down a boczek cure recipe.


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