Coffee and Orange Beef Cheeks Sous Vide – Not guaranteed to please everybody.

Coffee and orange beef cheeks (7 of 7)One of the great deciders in life is how we deal with anticipation. I often feel that the joy of expectation can, in itself, be a greater pleasure than a desire satisfied. So too, can the dread of a potential negative outcome be far worse than the eventual reality. Keeping a balance between these two extremes can also be difficult. I tend to lean on the side of the optimists. That way, I get the pleasure of anticipation and, when things turn out well, the additional pleasure of having things go my way. 
Pessimists, on the other hand, know in their heart and soul that everything is going to turn out badly and when it does, they derive a grim satisfaction from having known all along that life is pretty dreadful and this event is just confirmation of their deep believed mantra.

But enough about that. Having recently had the pleasure of a guided tour of the Bewley’s Coffee roasting facility in Dublin, I wanted to try something a little ‘out there’ using coffee. I cooked two beef cheeks sous vide. I prepared them using a mix of Bewley’s Peruvian coffee, orange zest and black pepper. 

A short ingredients list. But, no shortage of flavour.

A short ingredients list. But, no shortage of flavour.

That led to my ingredients list that consisted of the following:

  • 2 beef cheeks
  • 1 very strong espresso coffee
  • The zest of an orange
  • freshly ground black pepper to season

When I floated the idea of preparing this, the pessimists did what pessimists do. They said “Uggghhh, coffee and orange! With beef! You must be mad.” My more optimistic diners, muttered approvingly in the range of the positive.  

Here’s what I did. First I brewed some Bewley’s ‘Coffee Project’ Peruvian blend.

The coffee pot is NOT dirty. Eldest won't let it be washed for fear of losing the coffee flavours.

The coffee pot is NOT dirty. Eldest won’t let it be washed for fear of losing the coffee flavours.

I made this very, very strong so it would not all be sucked out of the sous vide bag when I vacuum sealed it. I zested a large orange.

Orange zest and strong coffee. What's not to be optimistic about?

Orange zest and strong coffee. What’s not to be optimistic about?

I peppered the beef cheeks and I added half the zest to each.

If it looks nice, then it will probably taste likewise. I like the look of this.

If it looks nice, then it will probably taste likewise. I like the look of this.

I bagged them and distributed the coffee evenly between the two bags.

Through guile and luck, the coffee stayed in the bags. I knew it would!

Through guile and luck, the coffee stayed in the bags. I knew it would!

Both were placed in a 58ºC water bath for 48 hours.

They never look pretty when they come out of the bath.

They never look pretty when they come out of the bath.

Having given them 20 minutes to settle and reabsorb some of the juices, I poured off the bag juices into a pan, warmed it to coagulate the proteins.

No, you don't eat the scummy stuff. That gets strained off.

No, you don’t eat the scummy stuff. That gets strained off.

These were then strained off through muslin. I then added some home-made concentrated beef stock and reduced this to a nice thick, highly flavoursome sauce.

Once strained, the juice has a lovely clarity and loads of flavour.

Once strained, the juice has a lovely clarity and loads of flavour.

Just before serving, I gave the beef a quick browning on the pan. 

It browns very fast. Remember the meat is cooked already.

It browns very fast. Remember the meat is cooked already.

I served the beef on a bed of sweet potatoes. It was delicious The optimists were delighted that my slightly unusual flavour combination worked so well. 

Like I say, delicious, of only a little chewy. We will be making this again, and again.

Like I say, delicious. We will be making this again, and again.

If you want something unusual and very tasty, be brave, be optimistic and give this flavour combination a go. The pessimists who just knew they would not like it were not satisfied. They liked it too!

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Latest comments
  • Lost for words. As far as I can see you have the same type of vacuum sealer as I do. How come the the coffee stayed in the bag? Looks lake a good dish for autumn or winter, but I understand that in Ireland spring went over in autumn without any summer at all. At least in the West, where my wife is from (Ballyhale, Headford, County Galway).

    • I kept the coffee very strong. There was not a lot of liquid. I prayed and got a bit lucky!

  • I don’t think this one’s for me. I tried cooking oven busters with coffee a couple of years ago, but I didn’t like it at all. However, adding coffee is quite popular, so it’s just my taste buds and I’m sure others will love your dish. It’s odd too, since I like good coffee. No doubt the beef cheeks were lovely and tender 😉

    • They were tender enough in truth MD but, when I am doing them again, I might give them an extra half day. All good fun.

      • I surprised myself when I braised some beef cheeks for a couple of hours longer than usual, so I think an extra half day sous vide might also pay dividends 😉

        • True indeed MD. I can experiment and add Richard and Kathryn’s chilies too.

          • That sounds very good 😉

  • I’m an optimist, but perhaps not a very brave one. It would never have occurred to me to combine either beef or orange with coffee, let alone all three together…

    • Optimism shines through every post I read on your blog Kate. What’s the worst that can happen….

      • That I waste a perfectly good pair of beef cheeks, I suppose. I have some nice brisket in the freezer. I might give it a go with that when I get back from my week away… No sous vide, but I’ll slow cook it.

        • Good idea Kate. I reckon that brisket would be fantastic, slow cooked with coffee and orange. Either that or it will be something to hold over me until my dying day!

          • I’ve run the concept past the Husband, who’s game to give it a go. I’ll let you know how it turns out -assuming I remember by the time I get back from my holiday!

          • Excellent. I love it when a plan comes together. Have a great (well deserved) break.

  • Wonderful idea and I can imagine it being delicious….I just can’t imagine going through the process of doing it:)

    • Roger, you are a curmudgeon. I mean that in positive way. I have developed curmudgeonly tendencies myself and enjoy the almost meditative state that it induces. Keep it up (but, if you get a chance, give this a whirl!).

  • Love the bit about pessimists. I’m an optimist that is constantly disappointed. You’d think I’d learn! What a creative dish. For those that like coffee I can see how this would wow.

  • Great post Conor. I love coffee. I love beef. I love orange. Nevertheless, it never would have dawned on me to combine the three. I’m sure it was very flavorful and tender. It is, however, missing the chile. 😉
    I have been chatting with Lea Hogg (Good Food Everyday) of late concerning the addition of coffee to a few dishes. Tim Bryes, Chef of Smoke here in DFW, was in Malta recently. Lea met him and he showed her how coffee pairs so very well with beef. She did chili with coffee and said it was exceptional and added a tremendous depth of flavor. I do a chile rub for steak that is very nice. He made a chile rub for ribeye steak, as well, and she was very impressed.

    • Lea is a very nice person. She does great stuff over there. I do think this would be improved with a deal of chili. Perhaps next time, I will do a Tex version with all four ingredients. It would be fun to try.

  • Interesting combination. Beef with coffee has been on my list of things to try — and now you go and make me look like a wimp by adding orange as well 😉 I haven’t done beef cheeks sous-vide yet, but think I would keep them in a bit longer.

    • Longer would not have been a problem (they could probably have done with a bit longer). I guess you will have to add some other extreme ingredient to show me up!

  • I agree with Richard, a chile pepper (or two or three) would have sent this over the top. Citrus is the basis for many Mexican dishes, and paired with coffee? Oh my!

    • I love when you Texans band together to improve my stuff (add chilies). It seems to be the answer to every dish that’s almost perfect. Wait till I post my latest chili. Lots of them in it. You will both approve.

  • Gave you five stars for that one! Being of Scandinavian birth [well, they do not accept us really as such : more country peasants in their view!] I am so used to cooking lamb with coffee and cream, so adding orange does not faze me an iota 🙂 ! Fantastic to try . . . but since I have a couple of plump lamb shanks in the fridge methinks shall attempt your flavours first on those . . . hmm, slow-cooking 😀 !!

    • Lamb and coffee! Very interesting Eha. I must discuss this lot with my Norwegian relatives.

  • What a delicious combination! I bet it was super delicious with a nice hearty red to stand up to those bold flAvors.

    • Thanks Bam,
      It needed a bold wine, for sure. I hope all goes well in HK.

  • Sounds amazing. Kudos to you for giving it a go. Love the colour with the sweet potatoes, too.

    • Thanks Linda,
      The green and orange really help the picture pop. This was excellent but I know I can improve it with adjustments and possibly the addition of chili.

  • I am unimpressed by the combination of chocolate and orange most of the time, but coffee and orange sounds intriguing. With the richness of the beef, it sounds delicious. I suppose you’ve coined a new adage: a pessimist can only be disappointed.

    • Hi Elizabeth,
      Thanks for visiting and for commenting. I thought that you were going to give me a hard time when I read “I am unimpressed by the combination…”. Thank you for the positivity and yes, a pessimist can only be disappointed. Good luck to them!

  • I’m a pessimist who hates waiting for bad news, Conor. Consider your response very carefully when I say that I fear I will never get to taste this cheeky goodness.

    • When you win at the Blog Awards 2015, I will cook it for you to celebrate. That gives you something about which to be optimistic.

      • Go way out of that, you big charmer, you! Making promises like that… Have you seen the size of the fecking longlists?! I have no confidence that you’ll be cooking for me at all (even though I did sneak myself into the Marketing & Comms category. Devious I know.) If I don’t see you in the final I may well stage a protest. Covered in meat and orange zest. Lady Gaga will have nothing on me.

        • I’m getting a visual. Go for it. The long lists are pretty long indeed. All part of the fun. If this fails, we will have our own awards. It seems to happen in most industries….

          • I suppose it would be an improvement on last year’s outfit. And the anticipation is fun. Plus I’ve started a petition to demand that if you win again this year, you get a crown.

  • Damn delicious idea!!!

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