Tapa Thursdays: Carillada (Braised Pig Cheek)

When I say I’ve eaten every part of the pig, I seriously am not joking. While my family is more about beef and chicken than pork, having a partner whose family business revolves around the acorn-munching cerdito means that we’ve often got a small gama (offering) of swine in our fridge.

While I don’t eat all of it for knowing better, Kike did trick me into eating carrillada, and I’m all the better for it:

Pig cheek is lean, tasty and quickly becoming my favorite party of the pig. In fact, it reminds me of coming home to pot roast after school during the harsh Chicago winters I grew up with.

While various versions exist (including a tasty Christmas thought-provoking version with dried cloves that Kike makes), my favorite is traditional carrillada with potatoes and carrots, perfect for a chilly winter day.

Lasaña de Carrillada with mashed potatoes at Barajas 20

What it is: The lean cut of pig cheek, often called the carrillera in a butcher shop or meat section of the supermarket. It’s often cooked on low temps for hours to make sure it’s tender.

Where it’s from: Carrillada is typical all over Spain, though the pork-producing regions of Western Andalusia, Extremadura and Gijuelo are rumored to have the freshest cuts.

Where to get it in Seville: This dish is about as common on menus in Seville as salmorejo is, so new ideas for incorporating the meat have become popular. At Pura Tasca (Calle Numancia, 5 in Triana) and Barajas 20, you can find ravioli filled with the meat, oft served with mashed potatoes as above. If you’re looking for the traditional version, I recommend Barra 20 in Bellavista or Zahora in Los Bermejales.

If you’re willing to make the drive, there’s an unassuming roadside restaurant on the A-92 highway near Antequera with carrillada so tender and braised with sweet Pedro Ximénez wine. This is, without a doubt, the best carrillada I’ve ever tried.

Goes perfectly with: A robust glass of red wine. If you’d like to make carrillada in your own kitchen, try this recipe by Lauren of Spanish Sabores, and enjoy the smells as you wait for it to slow-roast!

If you like tapas, tell me which ones you’d like to see featured on Sunshine and Siestas? Here are my picks for the Five Must-Try tapas in Spain. Alternately, there are more pictures on Sunshine and Siestas’s Facebook page.

 

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living among pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she wrangles babies at an English Language Academy and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.

Comments

  1. Mmm, one of my favorites too! Actually, probably my favorite meat in Spain!

  2. Rena Dunne says:

    I love carrillada, my favourite tapa. Do you know the name of the place near Antequera? Is it passed going towards Malaga or coming back. I travel that road a lot and would definitely stop for my favourite food here.

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      Hi Rena, I’m been looking for the name to no avail. Kike used to pass it going to Murcia to the Academia. It’s on the Southern side attached to a gas station, just before reaching antequera if you’re coming from Seville. Will keep looking!

  3. Rena Dunne says:

    Hi Cat, I tried to access the recipe but the page won’t open for me ´cause my internet is so crap. Can you send it to my email address please? I’ve been looking for a good carrillada recipe and I’d like to try this one seeing as you recommend it. Thanks.

  4. azahar says:

    The best home-style melt-in-your-mouth carrillada I’ve had in Sevilla is at Bodeguita Romero in calle Harinas. La Azotea does a fabulous gourmet version with red wine and topped with gratinated goat cheese.

    Will have to try Lauren’s recipe – it looks great. Here is one I adapted from a couple of different recipes that is also very good and easy to make…
    http://azaharskitchen.wordpress.com/2009/10/17/carrillada-aka-pigs-cheeks/
    azahar recently posted..Taberna de Pasos LargosMy Profile

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      Hi, Shawn! Just tried the carrillada at La Azotea – yum!! Will have to try your recipe for sure, though I’m not much of a cook. Hope you’re enjoying the holidays!

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