1½ tbspolive oil6pork cheeks, trimmed (about 220gm each)1 litre (4 cups)chicken stock330 gmfirm ricotta, drained120 gmparmesan, finely grated, plus extra to serve50 gmprosciutto, finely chopped6 thin slicesround pancetta12asparagus spears, halvedPasta dough200 gmplain flour2eggs For dusting:fine semolina
Preheat oven to 150C. Heat oil in a frying pan, season pork cheeks to taste and fry in batches, turning occasionally, until golden (3-5 minutes). Transfer to a casserole, add stock, cover, bake until tender (1½-2 hours). Remove half the pork, shred with forks (discard excess fat). Combine shredded pork, ricotta, parmesan and prosciutto in a bowl, season, set aside. Set aside remaining pork and stock.
For pasta dough, combine flour and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Form a well, add eggs, stir to incorporate and form a dough, adding a little water if dough is too dry. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth (8-10 minutes). Cover in plastic wrap and set aside to rest (1 hour).
Divide dough in half. Working with one piece at a time, feed dough through pasta machine, starting at widest setting and lightly flouring dough as you fold and feed it through, reducing settings notch by notch until pasta sheets are 2mm thick. Cut out 24 10cm-diameter rounds with a pastry cutter. Place 2 tsp pork mixture in the centre of each round, brush edges with water and fold to form a half-moon shape, pressing edges to seal. Set aside on a tray dusted with semolina.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 200C. Place pancetta on an oven tray, bake until crisp (4-5 minutes), set aside.
Gently warm reserved stock and remaining pork cheeks in a saucepan over low heat.
Meanwhile, cook mezzalune in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente (4-5 minutes), adding asparagus during the last minute of cooking.
Thinly slice warmed pork cheeks, arrange in serving bowls with mezzalune and asparagus, spoon over braising liquid, scatter with crisp pancetta and parmesan and serve hot.
This recipe is from the May 2011 issue of Australian Gourmet