Beef Cheeks

We are working through the lower reaches of our freezer, and someone has given us beef cheeks. I am very keen on eating all of the animal, waste is a terrible thing.

Beef cheeks are tough, cheap and extremely tasty cuts of meat that need long cook times to make them tender. You could use shin of beef or venison for this recipe instead.

First off, I had to prepare the beef cheek. I started with about 600g of meat, but a lot of it was sheets of fat and connective tissue. I trimmed it, using a very sharp knife, and then cut the remaining sheets of meat into pieces about the size of half a post-card, and about 1 cm thick.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 600g ox/beef cheeks
  • seasoned flour, 2 tbsp
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or butter
  • 2 large Carrots, chopped
  • 2 sticks Celery, chopped
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • a dash Brandy
  • 300ml Red Wine
  • 1 clove
  • half tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 pinch of aniseed
  • 4 sprigs of time, or 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 can of tomatoes, blended
  • 2 Anchovies (you can buy these in a jar, in oil)
  • Salt and Black pepper
  • Flat Leaf Parsley, to serve.

METHOD:

Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees celsius.

  • Trim the cheeks as described above, coat each piece with seasoned flour. Heat the oil in a large casserole dish, and brown the cheeks. Once they are done, remove from the pan and set aside.
  • Slice the onions, carrots, garlic and celery and cook in the same pan over a medium to low heat, until soft. Add a little more butter or olive oil if required
  • Once the vegetables are soft, increase the heat and add the meat back to the pan, with the can of pureed tomatoes. Mix to coat the ox cheeks and veg in the puree and bring to a simmer.
  • Add the wine, brandy, clove, cinnamon, thyme, bayleaves, aniseed and anchovies, and bring to a simmer. Put the pan into the oven to cook for 2 1/2 hours.You may wish to check that there is enough liquid in the pan half way; add stock or water if necessary
  • After 2 1/2 hours, check that the meat is tender, and turn the oven off, leaving the pan in the oven. Use this time to make mashed potatoes, cook any additional vegetables, have a cheeky wee glass of wine, and remember to warm the plates.

We had this with mashed potatoes, but the original recipe suggested polenta as an alternative. It was delicious.

Pork chops grilled with blue cheese

This made a real mess of the grill but it was sensational. Recipe from Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries. I love the way he is really showing us good ways to eat, rather than fancy ways to cook.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 large pork chops or steaks
  • 50g blue cheese
  • 50g butter
  • 50ml single cream
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • a sprinkling of salt

METHOD:

  • Mash the cheese, butter, cream, mustard, thyme and black pepper together, and put in the fridge to chill a little.
  • Sprinkle the chops with a little salt, and grill under a hot hot grill, until just beginning to colour on each side, and the chops are just cooked through, about 7-10 minutes on each side
  • Put a slice of the blue cheese/butter mixture over the chops and return briefly to the grill, until the blue cheese melts onto the chops. Leave it too long and the mixture drips into the grill pan and makes a mess.

I served this with new potatoes, courgettes in a lemon and olive oil dressing, and some braised fennel.

Scotch Broth

I’ve no idea if I make this soup the best way, but this is how I do it. Scotch broth involves a lot of chopping. If I get a lamb neck, this is what I make. I adjust the quantities depending on what is available

INGREDIENTS:

  • Lamb or mutton neck, around 900g, trimmed of any surplus fat.
  • 500g leeks, one left whole, the rest chopped finely
  • 50g pearl barley
  • 250g carrots, peeled and chopped finely
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 turnip, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • sprig of thyme
  • a bayleaf
  • finely chopped cabbage

METHOD:

  • In a large stock pan, make the basick stock for the soup as follows: Put the lamb neck, the whole leek, carrot, chopped onions, barley, turnip, black pepper and bayleaf into the pan, and  cover with water. Bring to the boil slowly and simmer for two hours or more, until the meat is well cooked and easy to remove from the lamb neck.
  • Fish out the whole leek and the lamb neck. When the lamb neck is cool enough, get as much meat off it as possible, chop it and return to the soup, along with the chopped leeks and shredded cabbage. Season the soup with salt. (This would be a good point to freeze any for later)
  • Bring back to the boil, and simmer gently for a further ten minutes or so before serving. The cabbage and the leeks should still be slightly crunchy.
  • Serve with bread, oatcakes or potatoes.

Ragu – bolognese sauce

This is the bolognese sauce that goes into lasagne, or any other kind of pasta. There are many versions of this sauce, this is based on more than one recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 250g beef mince
  • 50g pancetta or other bacon, ham, lardon etc
  • Butter
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes, pureed
  • 200ml white wine
  • 1 glass of ‘marigold’ stock
  • 1 bayleaf
  • nutmeg
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Chop the pancetta, or other bacon, and fry gently in a little butter
  • Chop and add the onion, celery and carrot, and continue to fry gently, until everything is browned.
  • Add the beef mince, and stir so that it is browned evenly.
  • Add the tomato and the white wine, and season with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and add the bayleaf.
  • Add the stock, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for at least 40 minutes. The longer the better.

I prefer to make this the night before, so that the flavour develops.