As we step into winter we will all have to embrace the simplicity and ultimately the reward of the slow cooked meal. Not only does it fill that craving for a hearty substantial meal, but the smell of a welcoming casserole or stew (or even something a bit more glamorous) is indeed something to want to come home to.
A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a rather wonderful special offer on beef cheeks, a mere $6.49 / kg, and what better way to prepare them than in the crock pot or pressure cooker! Beef cheeks do need a long cooking time, but you will be rewarded with one of the tastiest and most succulent fall apart meats that I have ever had the pleasure of consuming. They freeze very well so if you do see them, why not stock up your freezer for that special occasion?
Now unfortunately I didn’t remember to take a photo of this, but perhaps I could paint a picture in your minds eye of perfectly succulent carrots, fennel and shallots nestled in a deliciously decadent red wine sauce with the hero of the dish no doubt the tender beef cheeks.
Now that I’ve had this wonderful success with this underrated and understated meat, I will definitely be putting it through it’s paces with the multitude of other recipe ideas that have been wafting through my mind.
Please try this recipe, and let me know what you think! I made this decadent, you could probably omit the bacon/speck and have just as delicious a result.
Cheeky beef cheeks
Recipe to serve 6
1 kg beef cheeks roughly diced (you will need a sharp knife or serious kitchen scissors as there are sinews right through that need a bit of attitude to get through)
80-100 g diced speck or bacon
2 cloves garlic crushed (use a fork and some salt to crush the clove)
1 large onion roughly chopped or 8 – 10 shallots peeled and diced (you could leave them whole as well)
1 small young fennel bulb, green removed (refer to my rubbing salt recipes to use these up!) and then roughly chopped (OPTIONAL)
2 carrots peeled and roughly diced or sliced (try find purple carrots as they will add some personality and colour to this dish)
200ml good red wine (and a glass for the chef!)
800ml – 1L good beef stock (depends on how saucy you like it)
2 large ripe tomatoes finely diced or 1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons plain flour mixed to a paste with 80ml water (you can use cornflour)
Heat a heavy based pan until swear-word hot. You can spray this with canola spray which is excellent for heat or use 1 tablespoon vegetable/rice bran/canola oil but please don’t use olive oil as it will smoke and burn! Place one layer of the beef cheek cubes into the hot pan and DO NOT STIR until the first layer has browned and you can actually smell that it’s brown. You can peek if you have to just to check. Once brown you can stir through or turn over but then leave alone completely until brown or else you are encouraging the meat to stew instead of brown. You may need to do this again to the second batch of meat if your pan was too small so just repeat the process. Once the meat is mostly browned you can add the bacon/speck and the onion and stir through once. Allow to cook through until you can start smelling the bacon and then you can stir until your heart’s content!
Now add the wine and then turn the heat down to about medium heat and allow it to cook off for about two to three minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT the flour and water mix, as that goes in towards the end once the meat is tender.
Now add this to your crock pot or pressure cooker. For the crock pot you could do the all day cook as recommended but I managed to get this tender in about 35 minutes on a medium heat in the pressure cooker once the lid was on. If you don’t have a crock pot or pressure cooker simply turn the heat right down to a very gentle simmer and cook for about 80-90 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the meat is tender you can add your thickening, cook though for a minute and then serve!
I served mine with a delicious baked parmesan Polenta, who needs the recipe!!