Even though I do say so my self, I made a dish this weekend that is worthy of a place in my top dishes ever. Simple ingredients and long, slow cooking produced a beef dish that was like a warm hug. Before I describe what the dish was, I have to say that some of you may turn you noses up at the main ingredient, but trust me, the resulting dish will be the best beef dish you will have ever eaten.
I recently bought myself a cast iron Dutch oven, and I’ve been looking for a dish that would be worthy of its first use. I have seen beef cheeks for a while now in the supermarket for really low prices, and knew that because they were a potentially tough piece of meat, that long, slow and low cooking would help turn them into something amazing. Somewhere in the last 50 years or so, modern cooks have turned away from cheaper cuts of meat, because of the ‘icky’ factor, but with the cost of meat today, cheaper cuts cooked in the right way are not only help with the monthly budget, but deliver flavour that is wholly missing from today’s table.
The best beef dish you will have ever eaten
If like me you are using a metal oven dish e.g. a cast iron Dutch oven, you can start the dish on the stove, otherwise use a large pan and then transfer it to a pre heated oven proof dish. Or if you have a slow cooker, I’m sure this dish would work as well.
- 1.5lbs (680g) of trimmed beef cheeks
- 4 cloves garlic roughly chopped
- 0.5 cups (120ml) of olive oil
- The zest of an orange
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 sprigs rosemary
- 1 star anise
- 1 tsp of juniper berries, crushed
- 0.5 cups (120ml) port or dry sherry
- 2 cups (475ml) of red wine
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 2 large carrots, roughly chopped
- 3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
- 10 large mushrooms, halved
- 2 cups (475ml) of beef stock
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp oregano
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Trim the beef cheeks to remove any excess fat and gristle.
- Add all the marinade ingredients to a bowl, mix well, cover and leave in the refrigerator overnight.
- Add some oil to the pan and brown the meat on each side over a medium high heat. Remove the meat from the pan. Add the port to the pan to de-glaze it, scraping the bottom of the pan.
- Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook for a couple of minutes. Return the meat back to the pan, add the wine, beef stock, tomato paste and oregano. Add some salt and pepper to taste. Bring the mixture to a simmer, place on the lid and put it in a pre-heated oven at (120C) for 5 to 6 hours.
- For the last 1.5 hours add the mushrooms and remove the lid from the dish for the rest of the cooking time.
- Remove the meat from the dish and wrap in some foil to keep warm.
- Sieve the cooking liquid into another pan and reduce it to about a third over high heat to make a thick gravy.
- Place the meat on a plate and pour over the gravy. Serve with mashed potatoes and green vegetables.