While we were away in Devon, we went to a farm shop, where there were a lot of organic and locally produced foods. In the interests of no waste, they were selling a lot of cuts of meat that are not readily available in supermarkets. We bought a couple of beef cheeks. This is a delicious cut of meat, rich and tender when cooked long and slow. This made four portions, and is based on a few recipes I looked up on the internet.
- 10 g dried porcini mushrooms
- 2 beef cheeks
- olive oil
- 100g smoked pancetta
- 4 sticks of celery
- 1 red onion
- 1 large carrot
- 1/4 tsp powdered cloves
- 4 cloves of garlic
- ½ a cinnamon stick
- a bunch of mixed fresh herbs such as parsley, bay, rosemary, tied in a bundle.
- 250ml wine
- 300ml passata (or pureed tomatoes from a tin)
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 160C. Put the porcini mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Season the beef cheeks with salt and black pepper. Chop the vegetables into 1cm dice.
- In a small casserole dish, heat the olive oil, and then sear the beef cheeks on both sides until they are browned.
- When the beef cheeks are properly browned, turn the heat down a little, and add the pancetta and cinnamon, cooking and stirring until the pancetta is golden.
- Add the crushed garlic and diced vegetables. Reserving the liquor, drain the mushrooms and add them to the pan, along with the bundle of herbs. Cook and stir, cook and stir for 15 minutes.
- Pour in the wine, and bring to a simmer, reduce by half and then stir in the porcini water and the tomato puree. Add water, around 300ml. Scrunch up some greaseproof paper and dampen it, and put it on top, to retain steam, and then put the lid on.
- Cook in the oven for about 3 1/2 to 4 hours, until really tender. Check every so often to see if you need to add any water.
- When the beef cheeks are cooked, shred and stir.
- Serve with pappardelle, or with polenta. I’m sure it would be good with mashed potatoes as well. For pappardelle, I allow around 250g for four people.
Local meat – it is the time that it is readily available as we head into winter. I have some plans for a duck ragu to go with pappardelle, and for a few lamb dishes. And some venison.