Recipe: Slow-Braised Beef Cheeks
I’m hot on the trend here in England for nose-to-tail eating. The idea behind this rather felicitous phrase is that if we’re going to kill animals to eat them, we should eat ALL of them. The theory itself was introduced to British life by the brilliant restaurateur, chef and author Fergus Henderson, of St John’s Restaurant here in London. For Henderson, it’s all about the pig and eating every little bit of him, but there’s no reason the notion can’t be applied to any animal.
It’s just too bad that the term for all the parts of the animal that Americans don’t want to eat is “offal.” Liver, kidneys, sweetbreads, hearts: the butchering term simply means any part of the animal that is interior, inside other parts. And my new hands-down favorite: beef cheeks.
Sadly I cannot give you a photograph of this dish because like so many of my homely, cozy, slow-cooked dishes, it is just awful to look at. But do give it a try.
Beef Cheeks Slow-Braised with Mushrooms
2 beef cheeks, trimmed of sinew (but don’t go crazy trimming)
2 tbsps vegetable oil
1 white onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced
6 large-ish mushrooms, quartered or cut in eighths depending on size
2 tbsps chopped thyme leaves
1/2 bottle good red wine
Chicken or veal stock to cover
Slice the beef cheeks in half to make a portion per person. In a heavy ovenproof dish with a lid, heat the oil and saute the beef cheeks just briefly on all sides and remove to a dish. In the remaining oil, saute all vegetables till soft. Add the thyme, cheeks and the wine, then add enough chicken stock for the meat and vegetables to be completely, generously covered. Place in a low oven, 300F/160C, covered. Cook for at least four hours and serve with noodles or mashed potatoes.
Now this is a food fad I can get behind. It’s morally upright, it’s the most inexpensive cut of beef on earth, it’s fun to say. It’s also foolproof, cooks itself and falls apart on your fork. You will never eat a more heartwarming, comforting cut of beef.
Have you ever prepared beef cheeks? Share your favorite recipe with us!
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