Succulent, tender beef cheeks that literally dissolved in the mouth accompanied by creamy, buttery mash and a sharp, tangy salsa verde were the superstars at a dinner party I had last week. My guests seemed suitably impressed when I drew this baby out of the bag. Nom, nom, nom.
Prep time: 30 Minutes Cooking time: 3.5 Hours $ Low Budget
Olive oil for frying
4 large beef cheeks, trimmed of any ridiculous amounts of fat but not all
2 tbs of plain flour
16 whole eschallots, peeled
6 slices of flat pancetta, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 brown onion, finely diced
700ml bottle of decent red wine (around the $10 mark ought to do it)
2 cups of beef stock (salt reduced if possible)
2 rosemary sprigs
4 thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
Sea salt and cracked pepper
For the Salsa Verde:
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 cups of flat leaf parsley leaves
1 cup of basil leaves
1/2 cup of mint leaves
2 tbs of dijon mustard
2 tbs of red wine vinegar
1 tbs of baby capers, drained
3 anchovy fillets
For the Spuds:
4 medium cream delight potatoes, peeled and chopped
30gm of butter
1/4 cup of pure cream
Sea salt and cracked pepper
Preheat the oven to 170°C
Pour the bottle of wine into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat slightly (so you don’t make a mess) and reduce the liquid by half (approximately 20 minutes).
While the wine is reducing, place the flour on a flat plate and spread it out with the back of a spoon. Season it with salt and pepper and then coat the beef cheeks in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess.
Heat a large ovenproof casserole or frypan and add enough oil to lightly coat the base of the pan. Once hot, lightly fry the beef cheeks on both sides until golden and caramelised. Remove and set aside.
In the same pan add the pancetta and eschallots and fry for a few minutes until the pancetta is starting to crisp up before adding the garlic and diced onion. Continue to fry until the onion is soft. Tie the rosemary, thyme and bay leaves in a tight little bundle with a piece of kitchen string and add it to the pan, frying for approximately one minute before pouring in the wine. Use a wooden spoon to scrape all the good bits off the bottom of the pan and pour in the stock. Season with a little salt and pepper, stir to combine and then return the beef cheeks to the pan. Make sure they are immersed in the liquid as much as possible. To help this, tear off a piece of baking paper and tuck it in over the top of the cheeks. Place a tight fitting lid on and place them in the oven for 2.5 hours, stirring occasionally, until soft and gelatinous.
To make the salsa verde, place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Whizz until you have a nice, pasty sauce. You can make it as chunky or smooth as you like. With this dish I like it to have a mustard like consistency.
Remove the beef cheeks from the oven and place them back on the stove top on a low heat. Remove the lid and allow the liquid to reduce for approximately 20 minutes or until thickened slightly.
Place the potatoes in a pot of water and bring it to the boil. Boil for approximately 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Drain the potatoes and using a masher, mash the potatoes until lump free before adding the butter, cream and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Whip vigorously with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy. If it feels a little stiff, add a touch more cream.
To serve, spoon equal portions of potato onto four serving plates. Make a little well in the centre of each potato pile and then gently lift a beef cheek into the well. Spoon over the sauce, dividing the eschallots evenly and then top with a generous dollop of the tangy salsa verde