There is a comfy charm to the routines of Christmas, burning your fingers on your first mince pie of the season piping hot out the oven, mulled wine, singing carols and of course the feast of Christmas eve which leaves us all comatose, our bodies pushed to their limits and our belts on the last notch.

Christmas is also all about creating new traditions, and we have a recipe here for those intrepid festive souls who wish to challenge the sovereignty of the noble turkey and who feel like going a little radical this Christmas, vacuum sealed bags, pressure cookers and all.


Virgilio Martínez Véliz, from the new generation of celebrity chefs emerging from Peru, has shared with us one of his molecular recipes to create a delicious festive dish based around one of our favourite porky bits, suckling pig cheeks. His ‘office’ – the acclaimed Central restaurant in Lima, Peru has been picked out as one of the top fifty restaurants in the world and is a hub of innovation as it takes a high precision molecular approach to indigenous Peruvian ingredients. So-ho-ho-ho…. if you feel up for a tasty challenge, read on below for Virgilio’s Christmas suckling pig cheeks.


For the pig cheeks:

2 suckling pig cheeks
400ml of vegetable oil
4 cloves of garlic
4 sprigs of thyme
5g of salt

-Put the pig cheeks in a cooking bag with garlic, thyme, salt and oil. Vacuum seal the bag.
-Place the vacuum sealed bags in an immersion cooker at 75⁰ C for 12 hours.
-After 12 hours has passed, separate the cheeks from their juices and set aside.
-Reduce the juice from the pig cheeks on a low heat.
-Finish off the cheeks by searing them skin-side down until they are golden and crisp.

For the Tubers

1 litre of extra virgin olive oil
100 g of peppercorn wood
40 peppercorns
40g black quinoa
1 maca root*
1 yam
1 head of purple corn
30g of raw cane sugar
10g rock salt
20g of calcium
5g seaweed

– In a bowl filled with mineral water, add the maca root, the yam and the calcium and let it soak for 3 hours.
-Rinse and dry the yam and maca root.
– Put them on a tray and cook them in the oven at 250⁰C for 1 hour and 10 minutes.
-Once ready, put the maca root and yam in a casserole pot with water and rock salt and heat until the water starts to boil.
-In a pan with water, cook the whole head of purple corn with a dash of cinnamon for 30 minutes at 110⁰C. Afterwards, drain and reduce the juice from the corn with the cane sugar until it reaches a thick honey-like consistency.
-In a mortar, grind the peppercorns with the olive oil until the kernels are crushed.
-Cook the black quinoa in chicken stock until the grains are tender (12 minutes).
-Wash, dry and set aside the twigs of the pimento tree. Before serving slightly burn the branches to lightly smoke the tubers.
-Before serving, heat the tubers in the oven with 4 teaspoons of vegetable oil and then serve, with a garnish of black quinoa and seaweed before drizzling over with the peppercorn sauce.

 Maca root – a root native to the high Andes in Peru – also supposed to be an aphrodisiac for that festive cheer


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