It’s win­ter, and time to dine like a king on what was once con­sid­ered a poor man’s cut of meat

Isis Town and Country - - Life -

CER­TAIN cuts of meat that were once con­sid­ered scraps have now found them­selves on the ta­bles of gourmets the world over. Amaz­ing cuts such as pork belly and lamb necks were once dis­carded in western butcher shops or sold off as pet food sim­ply be­cause home cooks did not know what to do with them or the well-to-do turned up their nose at the sight. Poorer farm­ers would keep the tougher or less vis­ually ap­peal­ing por­tions for them­selves. Now that win­ter is here I get to use one of my favourite cuts of beef, one that was once dis­missed as peas­ant food – beef cheeks. But let’s call it what it re­ally is, cow face. Beef cheeks, the fa­cial cheek muss­mooth, cle of a cow, melt in your mouth when slowly braised and have a tex­ture that is meaty and silky at the same time. It is also a cheap cut that won’t break the bank, so stock up. In­gre­di­ents Beef: 1kg beef cheeks, about 4 cheeks, 2 large roughly cubed car­rots, 4 sticks roughly chopped cel­ery, 2 large quar­tered onions, 3 crushed gar­lic cloves, 4 strips of diced streaky ba­con, 10 whole but­ton mush­rooms, 500ml beef stock, 2 cups medium bod­ied red wine, 1/3 cup plain flour to coat, salt and pep­per to taste. Roasted pump­kin puree: 1kg pump­kin peeled and chopped, 2 tbs olive oil, pinch salt. Method: Pre­heat oven to 180C. Sep­a­rate the beef cheeks and pat dry with pa­per towel, re­mov­ing any ex­cess mois­ture. Sea­son 1/3 of a cup of plain flour with salt and pep­per and coat the beef cheeks un­til com­pletely coated. In a large french pan or dutch oven, fry off the diced ba­con un­til crispy. Drain the ba­con on pa­per tow­els and re­serve the ren­dered ba­con fat in the pan. Saute the mush­rooms and onions in the ba­con fat and set aside. Brown the floured beef cheeks in the pan un­til sealed all over. Re­move from the pan and re­serve. Deglaze the pan with a cup of red wine, car­rots, gar­lic and cel­ery and braise un­til translu­cent. Re­turn the beef cheeks to the pan with the rest of the wine and the stock. Bring to the boil and cover with the lid. Re­move from the stove and place in the oven for 1½ hours. Re­move the pan from the oven and re­turn to the stove. Care­fully re­move the beef cheeks and set aside. With a stick mixer, puree the re­main­ing veg­eta­bles in the pan un­til a gravy-like con­sis­tency is formed. Re­turn the beef cheeks to the pan along with the mush­rooms and onions. Sim­mer un­til re­duced. Roasted pump­kin puree: Line a roast­ing tray with bak­ing pa­per and ar­range the pump­kin. Coat with olive oil and sea­son with salt and pep­per. Roast at 180C for about 25 min­utes or un­til golden and caramelised. Mash and whisk the pump­kin un­til smooth. To serve: Di­vide the beef cheeks on to 4 plates with equal por­tions of mush­rooms and onions and plenty of sauce. Add the side of pump­kin puree and gar­nish with the fried ba­con bits.

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