recipes about

Pig Cheeks with Polenta

with Brandt & Levie Pork Amsterdam, Netherlands

“We work with whole animals, for us it is key to explain to people that if you eat meat, you are obliged to eat the whole animal.”

Jiri Brandt, Geert van Wersch and Samuel Levie Sausage Makers


Brandt & Levie is a childhood dream come true for founders Jiri Brandt, Geert van Wersch and Samuel Levie, who are well on the way of achieving their mission of producing the tastiest sausage with well bred Dutch pigs.

The founders of Brandt & Levie met whilst working in the kitchen of an Amsterdam restaurant. Their common dream to do something with sausage led them south to learn from masters of sausage making. In Corsica they walked with pig farmers who kept their pigs in the wild, allowing them to wander through the forests and feast on chestnuts during autumn. In Italy they had the best guide in town; Carlo Petrini, the president of Slow Food. He was delighted that young Dutch guys, one of which bore a Jewish name, wanted to enter the world of sausage making and introduced them to the best artesian Italian butchers, such as Dario Cechinni and the Savigni family, to undertake their internship.

Back in Amsterdam, they started experimenting with small amounts of sausage, hanging them in cellars and attics. After testing dozens of flavors, using Italian techniques, they settled on the first eight flavors of dry sausage and the Brandt & Levie brand was born. More products quickly followed and now you can find their sausages throughout Dutch delis and high level supermarkets.

Sustainability was one of the main reasons for the creation of Brandt & Levie. They believe that we consume too much meat and as sausage makers they are trying to teach people to eat less meat and better meat. It is important to Brandt & Levie that their meat comes from well bred Dutch pigs. They have a direct relationship with the farmers, buying whole animals and leaving nothing to waste. The pigs have plenty of space, often even more than under organic guidelines, and receive regionally produced food and plant residues from the surrounding countryside and nearby supermarkets.

find out more

The recipe

With creamy polenta, a rich tomato sauce and fresh gremolata, this is not a typical Dutch dish. However, it is very Brandt & Levie, given their strong ties to Italian sausage making traditions.

Ingredients - serves 4

  • Pigs Cheeks

    • 4 pig cheeks
    • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
    • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
    • 1 brown onion, diced
    • 2 stalks celery, diced
    • 2 tomatoes, cut into quarters
    • 4 tomatoes, cut into halves
    • 2 cups white wine
    • 2 bay leaves
    • Zest of half a lemon
    • Good handful of parsley chopped
    • Sea Salt
  • Polenta

    • 100 g polenta
    • 500ml water
    • 500ml milk
    • 50g grated Parmesan
    • Good knob of butter
    • Sea Salt


  • Pig cheeks

    • 1) Heat oven to 120°C
    • 2) Pat the pork cheeks dry and salt well. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet. Add the pork cheeks and brown over medium to high heat.
    • 3) Add the onion and garlic and cook for few more minutes, then turn off the heat.
    • 4) Add the 2 quartered tomatoes along with the celery, wine, bay leaves, a good pinch of salt and cracked pepper. If necessary, add a little water so that the pork cheeks are just covered.
    • 5) Cover the skillet with a lid and cook in the oven for 4 hours. Turn the cheeks after 2 hours.
    • 6) Remove the skillet from the oven. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
  • Polenta

    • 1) Heat milk and water in a heavy based pot. When it begins to boil sprinkle in the polenta whilst stirring slowly and bring back to the boil.
    • 2) Cook on low heat, stirring regularly, for 30 minutes until it is smooth and cooked through.
    • 3) Add butter and parmesan cheese, stirring to incorporate.
    • 4) Whilst the polenta is cooking, drizzle the halved tomatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Cook under grill for 5-7 minutes until the have started to soften, but are not falling apart.

      Serve each pig cheek and 2 grilled tomato halves on top of a bed of creamy polenta. Garnish with lemon zest and chopped parsley.

Nutrition value

Free-range pigs are raised in a natural environment and are free of growth hormone and anti-biotic residues, which are known to be bad for health.

Dr. Marta Guasch-Ferré Dietician and PhD in Nutritional Epidemiology

Other recipes