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.
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.
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.
I peppered the beef cheeks and I added half the zest to each.
I bagged them and distributed the coffee evenly between the two bags.
Both were placed in a 58ºC water bath for 48 hours.
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.
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.
Just before serving, I gave the beef a quick browning on the pan.
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.
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!