Yes, the picture really does tell the story. Beef Cheeks in Red Wine. A good friend of mine was suggesting recipes to me. He talked me into cooking beef cheeks (a first for me). He got to my penny wise side by extolling their value. They really are a cheap cut. That appealed, as anybody who knows me knows, I have a Scrooge side. The skinflint in me was happy until I decided to follow a recipe recommended by a more extravagant friend.
I got my cheeks in a good butcher’s shop. They are inexpensive, even by my penny-pinching standards. They are delicious and one can really bring out the best in them by submerging them in a nice fruity red wine for 24 hours before cooking. Now, I subscribe to the school that agrees one should use good wine in cooking. Particularly if it is a key ingredient like here. The problem is I had to use an entire bottle. The expense! At this stage, I was conflicted but committed.
The ingredients list (for four) is short, including the very inexpensive (meat) and the more extravagant (wine).
- A bottle of mature, fruity red wine. (Expensive)
- 2 or 3 beef cheeks. (Great value)
- 2 carrots (Inexpensive)
- 2 onions (Inexpensive)
- 3 sticks of celery (Inexpensive)
- 1 clove of garlic (Very inexpensive)
- A bouquet garni (Free from the garden)
Not withstanding the long wine soaking, you will have to get up early to get the cooking underway. The cheeks need to be browned (blackened almost).
Chop up some onion, carrot and celery, nice and small. Sweat this down in the pan in which you browned the beef. Chop and add the garlic, at this stage too.
When the vegetables are sweated down, add back the beef and the wine.
Bring to the boil and add the bouquet garni.
Put a lid on the saucepan and place it in a warm oven (140º C) for six hours. Take the beef out of the wine sauce, wrap it in tinfoil and let it rest for 10 minutes or so. Remove and discard the bouquet garni. While the beef is resting, reduce the sauce by 50% or so. Serve it on a bed of parsnip mash (half parsnip and half potato).
For the parsimonious (now there’s a word!) amongst you, get somebody to give you the wine. For the spendthrifts, just get on with it. This conflicted me but both the tightwad and the profligate sides of my nature were brought together by this beautiful rich dish.