Sondra Bernstein
Owner/Chef of The Girl & the Fig

Braised Pork Cheeks, Three Onion Ragoût

With Kamen Grenache

Owner Sondra Bernstein quietly opened The Girl & the Fig in 1997 originally in Glen Ellen, California. Slowly, people began to discover her distinctive take on rustic French cuisine. In 2000, she relocated the restaurant into more upscale quarters on the northwest corner of the Plaza in Sonoma in the historic Sonoma Hotel. Over the past fourteen years, The Girl & the Fig has made its mark in Wine Country becoming a favorite for both locals and visitors. Her wine list is dedicated to featuring only Rhone varietals and we are honored to have our Grenache available to diners.

Main Ingredients

Yield: 6 servings


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound cipollini onions, peeled
  • 3 sweet onions (Walla Walla or Maui), peeled with root attached and cut in half
  • 1/2 pound red pearl onions, peeled and blanched 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

Pork Cheeks

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 pounds pork cheeks, cleaned
  • 1 leek, white part only, sliced
  • 4 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, quartered
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 6 cups Veal or pork Stock (beef broth can be substituted)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 bunches baby mâche, for garnish


To prepare the ragoût:
Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil on medium heat in an ovenproof pan large enough to hold all of the onions. Add the cipollini onions and caramelize

them until golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. Place the pan into the oven and roast for an additional 15 minutes or until the onions are soft.

Toss the sweet onions with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the onions face down on a baking sheet and roast until the onions are soft and browned, about 35 minutes. Heat the butter in a large sauté pan and add the onions, butter, and thyme. Adjust the seasoning and cook until hot, about 5 to 7 minutes. Keep warm.

To prepare the pork Cheeks:
Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Heat the olive oil in a large casserole dish or braising pan over medium heat. Add the pork cheeks and sear them until they are well caramelized on all sides. Remove the pork from the pan and set aside. Add the leek, celery, carrots, onion, and garlic and cook until browned. Add the honey and mix well. Return the pork to the pan and stir again. Add the red wine, bay leaf, and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce the liquid by half. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan, transfer it to the oven, and roast for 2 1/2 hours. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool for 20 minutes. Remove the pork from the pan and set aside. Strain the liquid into a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Reduce the liquid by a little more than half, skimming the top. Add the pork back to the liquid and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve:
Divide the onion ragoût evenly among 6 plates and top with the braised pork cheeks. Garnish with the mâche.

Note: Before cooking the pork cheeks, they need to be cleaned or trimmed. Use a boning knife to carefully remove the silver skin and any obvious fat.

(There may be a hard piece of cartilage that also needs to be removed.) Once you’ve cleaned the pork cheeks you will have two separate pieces. If you want the butcher to do this for you, you should ask ahead of time when you order the pork cheeks.