I have wanted to get my hands on some beef cheeks for a while now, ever since I tasted some truly amazing cheeks in a Tapas restaurant in Brighton last year. They were so tender, the texture was just incredible, served in a rich, deep red wine sauce. They completely stole the show that night and have remained in my memory ever since.
So, when I was over picking up some mince from my pals at Grasspunk recently, I ‘cheekily’ asked them if they might have any beef cheeks loitering at the back of their fridge and as luck would have it, they had a cheek that they could give me.
Having got my hands on a very large, very darkly coloured beef cheek, I have to say I was fairly excited! For me, being able to experiment with ingredients that are unfamiliar and a little scary, makes my heart beat a little faster. So, with a certain amount of unrestrained glee, I began to form a plan for my wondrous cheek.
The tapas cheeks that I had tasted in Brighton had a certain sweetness to the sauce that I wanted to try to emulate. And of course the key to the meltingly soft texture and richness is in long, slow cooking and a well reduced sauce.
Having recently added saucisson to my ‘Pot au Feu’ recipe, I thought it might also work in this dish. Alongside shallots, carrots, garlic and a dash of Worcestershire Sauce for a nice lift at the end.
I braised my cheek for a good 2 1/2 hours and served it generously with some mashed sweet potato. The texture was literally spectacular. Beef cheeks don’t feel like offal, although essentially they are. They are more like a luxurious cut of meat that melts in the mouth, and packs a full on beefy punch.
So my advice to you is this…don’t dismiss the beef cheeks! They are not at all scary or difficult to prepare or cook. And they deliver such a terrific treat on a plate, you cannot fail to enjoy them.
Be brave….you won’t regret it !
Beef Cheeks Braised in Red Wine with Sweet Potato Mash
(Serves 2 generously)
1 beef cheek, cut in half
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp olive oil
100g cured saucisson
3 shallots, cut in half
2 carrots, cut into batons
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
50ml sherry vinegar
1 heaped tbsp tomato puree
500ml red wine
750ml beef stock
2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 large sweet potatoes
milk & butter for mash
To prepare the cheek, remove as much of the white sinew as possible and cut the cheek in half. Mix together your flour and paprika and then dust the cheeks in the flour. Heat the olive oil in a thick based saucepan and fry your cheeks to give them some colour. Set aside.
Add your shallots, carrots, garlic and saucisson to the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes then add the sherry vinegar and let that reduce to almost nothing which only takes a minute or two. Then add your tomato puree and cook that for another 2 minutes.
Pour in your red wine and bring to the boil. Let it simmer for 5-10 minutes to let it reduce by a third. Then add your cheeks back to the pan and pour in your beef stock. Bring this to a simmer, cover and cook for 2 1/2 hours, checking and stirring occasionally. If it looks to be getting a bit dry, just add a splash of water as required.
To serve, make your sweet potato mash. Peel and chop your potatoes and boil them in salted water for 12-15 minutes until cooked. Then mash them with a splash of milk and a knob of butter and plenty of seasoning. Serve your cheeks on top of the mash.
I am entering this recipe in to two great challenges. First of all, Credit Crunch Munch as beef cheeks are a good value cut. Credit Crunch Munch Challenge belongs to Helen from Fuss Free Flavours and Camilla from Fab Food 4 All but this month, it’s being guest hosted by Sian from Fishfingers For Tea.
And I am also entering this into Made With Love Mondays hosted by Mark from Javelin Warrior’s Cookin w/Luv as it was made completely from scratch…