Canadian Chimichurri Pork Cheek with Kabocha Parsnip Purée

I asked the lovely Mel of Gourmet Fury if she would like to guest post for me while i’m away working in Aspen, Colorado for a week. Not only she agreed, despite her hectic schedule, but she did it so well that i’m considering leaving her the keys to my blog indefinitely. Ok not reaaally, but look at that vibrant chimichurri, and good gawd.. look at those perfectly marbled pork cheeks… and that.. that kabocha parsnip purée! Mel is from the Olympics host city of Vancouver. So go check out her blog for up-to-the-minute news about Vancouver specialties, fabulous recipes, or just because she’s cool, sexy and damn talented. I leave you in good hands, my friends. Show her some love.


When dear Zenchef asked me to write a guest-post, I agreed without hesitation because we’ve got each other’s back like that. I not only admire his obvious talent, I also love how approachable and sincere he is.

When I agreed, it slipped my mind that his trip falls on the Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day weekend. What’s more? OLYMPIC MADNESS. The Vancouver 2010 Olympics opened last Friday and I was dashing to meet writing deadlines. My frazzled mind drew a blank on what to cook.

Aside: Here’s a round-up of the best eats in Vancouver to entice you to visit me in the most beautiful and livable city in the world.

As a proud Vancouverite, I’m ecstatic that the Olympics are here. My patriotic spirit lit up when the Olympic torch and crowds of cheering supporters passed by my window on Friday morning. The heart-warming moment inspired this delicious recipe that features local BC ingredients as a tribute to my hometown.

Cheek (or jowl) is undoubtedly my favourite cut of pork. The combination of heavy marbling and dense muscle creates a springy and succulent texture. Cooks sometimes use needlessly complicated methods to prepare this prized cut. I find that slow cooking renders too much fat, which affects flavour and texture. In my opinion, the best way to exhibit its unique qualities is to simply marinate and grill it.

Canadian Chimichurri Pork Cheek with Kabocha Parsnip Purée


    Grilled Pork Cheeks

  • 2 Sloping Hill Berkshire Pork Cheeks, 1/2″ thick, trimmed of excess fat
  • 1/2 cup of Gastown Amber Ale, named after my neighborhood
  • 2 tbs Anton Kozlik’s Canadian Mustard
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
    Canadian Chimichurri

  • 1 cup fresh Italian parsley (packed, tough stems removed)
  • 1/2 cup fresh oregano leaves (packed, tough stems removed)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup Valentine Farm Verjus
  • 1 tsp BC Bigleaf Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt to taste
    Kabocha Parsnip Purée

  • 1/4 small kabocha, peeled and cubed (approx 2 cups)
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cubed (approx 2 cups)
  • 3 cups Avalon milk
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbs butter
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1 red onion, 1/2 inch slices


Marinate the pork cheeks in the fridge for 4 hours.

    Kabocha Parsnip Purée

Bring 3 cups of milk to a simmer, add all the ingredients except the butter. Season with salt. Simmer with the lid slightly ajar until the vegetables are very tender, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking (15-20 minutes). Add more milk if the liquid is absorbed too quickly.

Remove the bay leaf and blend the mixture until smooth. Stir in the butter and check for seasoning. Keep warm.

    Canadian Chimichurri

Pulse all the ingredients except the oil. When the herbs are chopped up, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and blend until smooth.

    To Assemble

Preheat the grill over medium-high heat. Brush it with some vegetable oil and grill the red onion until caramelized.

Remove the pork cheeks from the marinade, pat dry, and season with sea salt. Brush the grill with more vegetable oil and grill the cheeks for 3 minutes on each side or until the juices run clear.

Allow the pork to rest for several minutes. Meanwhile, divide the onion slices onto warm plates, followed by the Kabocha Parsnip Purée. Slice the cheeks against the grain and lay them on top of the grilled onions. Dress the cheeks with the Canadian Chimichurri.

Serves 2. Enjoy!

Melody Fury shares her beloved recipes, culinary travels, and gastronomic insight in her blog: She is set apart by her drool-worthy photos, quirky narratives, and a refreshing perspective on cultural ingredients.

Vancouver writer and business consultant by day, wine and cocktail ninja by night.

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  • nina

    I’ll be sure to ask my butcher about this delicacy that he has been hiding from me…

  • Marc @ NoRecipes

    Nice, pork cheek is one of my favourites as well (right up there with pork belly). This looks gorgeous (the grill marks almost look like they’re painted on).

  • Melody Fury

    @Marc BUSTED!! 😉

  • Andrea @ Fork Fingers Chopsticks

    Chimichurri and grilled cheeks – you’re giving me goose bumps! I could make some tacos with that.

  • Lee Ann

    Melody your dedication and scope is stellar. You are my new champion of BC foods and getting the word out! The pork cheeks are spot on, incorporating the BC Big Leaf maple syrup nailed this dish. LA.

  • Tokyo Terrace

    Great post! I love it! I’ve made Kabocha puree a couple of times and it’s one of my favorite sides. Gorgeous!

  • Debi (Table Talk)

    Love the maple syrup in the Chimichurri; Canadian indeed!

  • Marysol

    A few years ago, I discovered that I preferred Kabocha over other pumpkins; I think it’s sweeter than most, and the color is absolutely vibrant, as demonstrated in your lovely photo!

    Wonderful combination of tastes and colors in this dish.

  • Tavolini

    Have fun in Aspen!!

    Mel–that chimichurri looks FANTASTIC!

  • Dawn (KitchenTravels)

    Melody, this looks mouth-watering. Can’t wait to give this recipe a try. One thing, though: you list a lot of name-brand ingredients here, which I found a bit off-putting. Next time, it would be helpful if you could provide a more generic description. For example: mustard (whole grain? smooth?), verjus (white? red? substitute vinegar or something else?), milk (I assume cow’s milk?). Having to Google all these brands to figure out a reasonable substitution is a little frustrating. Thanks so much. :)

  • daphne

    Now I know what is Chimichurri! And what a lovely juicy looking cut of pork. Going to keep that at the back of my mind now.

  • pierre

    hi there I love parsnips which becomes more and more popular in france !! thanks for the recipe !! Pierre

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  • lightning x

    The pork cheeks were delicious but my son hated the collagen texture. I thought they were delicious! The marinade was perfect and the chimmichurri a really nice complement to the pork.