Wow! It's been a hectic past few weeks here in Brisbane. AnotherFoodBlogger now has a new kitchen in which to create some kick ass food and recipes for you guys. In case you didn't get it we have moved house. Still living in New Farm in Brisbane but just a new address. Beef Cheeks are the protein of choice today. This recipe is one of my favourites and is certainly fit for a King or Queen!
What's been going on?
I can tell you the past few months have been tough. For those of you who don't know, aside from recipe developing, blog writing and some private catering,isn't that enough? I am also a stay at home dad. Having managed restaurants in Ireland and America and having worked 24hr days in hotels. I can now confirm that being a parent is by far the toughest job I have ever had. I adore my little princess and I get such pleasure from watching her grow and develop. But boy it's tough to get ANYTHING done except test drive every swing & slide in Brisbane on a regular basis. Oh, and what made moving even more fun was our daycare was/is closed for renovations. As you can imagine packing up our 3 bedroom home meant that for every box I filled, another was being emptied by said "princess".
Anyways, due to this I have been off the radar the past while and am glad to be back sitting here writing this post. Yesterday was my birthday so I wanted to post a good meaty dish to celebrate and as a few of you may know if you follow me on instagram, I'm totally in LOVE with beef cheeks. Between this and my ragu recipe we have been eating them on the regular in AnotherFoodBlogger's house. Which is perfect as they are certainly more cost effective than eating my usual ribeye steak. Plus they are packed with flavour and the toddler LOVES them too!
Why beef cheeks?
There was a time when cuts of meat like oxtail, beef cheeks, pork butt etc were seen as the pour man's food and it was hard to find in restaurants as everyone was after "fancy" cuts of meat like fillet, tenderloin, NY strip and ribeye. Well, nowadays it's hard to eat in any good restaurant without seeing rump, cheeks, collar and belly. Does this mean we are being duped out of our hard earned cash? At first, it may seem like that when you compare the cost of a beef cheek to a NY strip. The truth is, cuts like these require a much longer cook time and extra "love" to transform them.
Don't get me wrong now, having worked in many restaurants the profit margin is considerably better on rump, belly or cheek. But balance is everything. When most good chefs create a menu some dishes make very little profit so others need to make larger profits to even it all out. What I like the most about using these cuts of meat, aside from the saving on my weekly shopping, is the flavour you get from them. Because they contain (generally) more fat, there is bags of flavour just waiting to be unleashed.
The other great thing is, typically when cooking these cuts you don't just make a tiny amount so there is always left overs that can get turned into some other kick ass dishes. In the case of beef cheeks why not try some sexy tacos? Serve them with charred corn and spicy chili & lime salsa. Or better yet in a pasta dish - check mine out here.
What to serve with it?
When making this beef cheek dish you will see that the majority of the ingredients are simple pantry staples. In this recipe I used polenta as I wanted to do something a little different than typical mash potatoes. Polenta, as you may be aware, is made up of boiled cornmeal and originated in Northern Italy. On it's own it can be pretty bland and boring so the addition of cheese is what makes this particular one pop. The dish was finished with some kale pesto which adds a nutty, creamy & earthy taste and nice acidity from the lemon juice too.
The pesto and beef cheeks can be both made in advance. This is perfect when you are trying to impress your guests and not spend forever in the kitchen. More importantly you have time to hold an actual conversation (read glass of wine).
These beef cheeks are one of my favorite dishes on my blog. Probably because it was the dish I used for my first catering gig but everything about the dish just comes together SO WELL. The slow cooked rich beef cheeks, creamy & cheesy polenta, crunchy sweet carrots and some delicious salty and acidic kale pesto – gotta add something “healthy”.
When I opened this wine it was a PERFECT match for the dish. Like the cooking of beef cheeks the Kilikanoon Meyamans Shiraz Cabernet gets better with time. I decanted it for an hour prior to serving and as we ate the wine just kept getting better and better. Truthfully a few years and it will be perfect but let’s take nothing away from those delicious rich dark fruits that are present. Blackcurrant, plum & blueberry are at the forefront along with beautifully structured tannins and a moreish finish.
I can’t recommend this pairing enough and once you cook this dish once you and your guests will be blown away with the combination -trust me 😉
Happy Cooking AND Eating Friends!!!
- 1 kg beef cheeks 4 around 250g each
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 500 ml red wine
- 400 ml vegetable stock - beef is ok too but it will be a richer dish
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 can diced tomatoes 400g
- 6 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 red chilli finely chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 star anise
- 1 liter whole milk & 250ml whole milk seperate
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup polenta
- 1 cup mascarpone cheese
- 1 garlic clove pureed
- 40 g butter
- 1/4 cup parmesan grated
- 2 cups kale leaves torn
- 1 garlic clove crushed
- 2 tbsp pinenuts light;y toasted
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese grated
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 8 dutch carrots peeled and trimmed
- 1 tsp olive oil
- Season beef cheeks and sear in dutch oven with 1 tbsp oil on medium to high heat - approx 4 mins or until golden brown. Remove and leave on clean plate
- In same pan add 1 tbsp oil, red wine, stock, chili, garlic, bay, spices.tomato paste and tinned tomatoes. Bring to the boil.
- Add beef cheeks to liquid and top with water (if necessary) until cheeks are completely submerged.
- Cover pot with lid or foil and place in oven at 180c for 3 hours.
- Remove from oven and remove cheeks from the pot. Skim any fat and reduce the liquid by half
- Adjust seasoning if necessary and add beef cheeks back to pot and leave on a low heat until ready to serve.
- Start to make the carrots & polenta now.
- Add 1 liter of milk, garlic & bay leaves to saucepan and bring to a simmer on a medium heat.
- Remove bay leaves and slowly add polenta to milk, stirring continuously. Cook on a low heat for 3 mins.
- Add butter, mascarpone, seasoning, parmesan and extra milk. Cook for another 2 minutes until polenta is a nice semi firm consistency.
- Toss carrots in olive oil and seasoning.
- Cook in oven @ 180c for 8-10 mins. Alternatively you can fry them on medium heat for 8-10 mins.
Kale Pesto - can be made in advance
- Toast pinenuts in a dry frying pan on low heat. Remove as soon as they start to go golden brown.
- Add pinenuts, kale, garlic, parmesan, seasoning and lemon juice to food processor.
- With food processor on medium gradually add oil until blended into a paste.
- Place a spoon of the polenta on the center of the plate.
- Using a slotted spoon and tongs gently place beef cheek on top of polenta and drizzle a little braising liquid over the top
- Place carrots next to beef cheeks and spoon a little pesto over the top and alongside the carrots as shown in photo.
- small frying pan x 2
- measuring utensils
- chopping board
- small food processor
- dutch oven / large sauce pan
- medium sauce pan - polenta
- when searing meat in a pan don't crowd it. Cook them in batches if necessary
- be careful when toasting pinenuts as they will burn easily
- pesto will last for 3-4 days in the fridge and goes great with pasta, on a salad or in a sandwich