We have a ritual every Monday night, we get together with two of our favourite people, eat good food, drink wine and indulge in an hour of blissful silence where we become lost in the world of Game of Thrones. It all started over a love affair for the show and the fact that we didn’t have Foxtel, thus needing to find friends who did….that being said, I actually look forward to Mondays over most other days now (Friday, Saturday and Sunday excluded). Not only do I get to hang out with some of my closest friends, but we alternate weeks for cooking duties, which basically means no cooking every second week – score! This week Ollie and I worked with one of our favourite cuts of meat: beef cheeks.
Since it can be a rush on Monday to create something delicious in little time, Ollie and I often opt for slow cooked meals which we dutifully prepare on a Sunday afternoon. Its become a really enjoyable routine, one that I am always sad to cease when the TV series ends for another season. I often pronounce my love for slow cooking and the use of cheap cuts of meat – beef cheeks being one of the best! If you haven’t tried them before, don’t be put off by the thought. Beef cheeks literally refers to the facial cheek muscle of a cow. It’s a very tough and lean cut of meat and requires ample, slow and thoughtful cooking time. You can never rush a beef cheek, never ever.
Accompanying our cheeks was a decadent cauliflower puree and a refreshing salsa verde which worked really well to cut through the richness of the meat. It’s a match made in heaven and one we have made a few times now. We always serve alongside a loaf of toasted crusty bread to ensure no sauce, puree or salsa can be left on the plate – and believe me, you won’t want it to be. We have modified a recipe from one of my cookbooks over the years and find the below version gives the best result.
750ml bottle of red wine
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs plain flour, seasoned to dust
6 beef cheeks
2 onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Lts beef stock
2 bay leaves
1 carrot, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets
185 ml cream
40 g butter
1 cup flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup basil
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 Tbs capers
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
4 Tbs olive oil
- Preheat oven to 170°C.
- Place the wine in a pan and simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until reduced by half. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a large casserole dish over a medium high heat. Dust beef cheeks in flour. In batches, brown the beef cheeks for 2 minutes on each side until sealed, adding a little more oil to the pan if necessary. Remove and set aside.
- Add the onion, carrot and celery to the pan, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in the garlic, then return the beef cheeks to the pan.
- Add in the reduced wine, beef stock and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper. The meat should be completely covered with liquid, so top up with water if necessary. Cover and transfer to oven to cook for two and a half hours.
- While the beef is cooking, prepare your cauliflower puree by putting the cauliflower, cream and butter in a saucepan, season to taste with salt, then cover and cook over low heat for 35 minutes, or until very tender. Place the cauliflower mixture in a blender and process until smooth. Keep the puree warm.
- For the salsa verde, combine all ingredients into a blender and blend until a thickish sauce consistency – doesn’t need to be too smooth, a little chunky is preferable. Season to taste.
- Serve by layering cauliflower puree, then the beef cheeks (can leave whole or break down) and top with salsa verde.
Enjoy! Best served alongside a glass of red, crusty bread and friends.
*Recipe adapted from More Please