Tender beef cheeks with beer, spiced carrot purée and prunes


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Beef cheeks is gaining in popularity, having seen quite a few recipes using cheeks and gracing more restaurant menus. This recipe here is one that I’ve developed over the years and I make it with different cuts of meat on a monthly basis: cheeks, tongue or crosscut. My local butcher has the freshest of them and I stock up when I see them. This is a cheap cut and with some tender loving care (i.e. slow or pressure cooked) it produces the most amazingly tender and texturally different meat. I have anchovies in my recipe for the added depth in flavour. Carrots are favoured to meet the cost but you could substitute with pumpkin or potatoes.

The beauty of this dish is that it keeps on giving. Beyond dinner. Any remnants and sauce can be scooped up for next day’s pasta. Or tipped into a pastry lined dish and baked as a pie. Or mixed with boiled baby potatoes for a quick salad. Oh and if desperate, mix it with left over rice, a sprinkling of paprika and chopped coriander for a quick Mexican-style lunch. I often make double batches and save the beef to use in any of the above dishes. You can also make a quick curry by cooking spices and adding beef and coconut milk, it doesn’t take much time at all as the meat is already tender. Super delicious and clean plates afterwards, always. It has saved me so much time in cooking for the week and I can spend more time doing things with my family.

Ingredients

  • 4 pieces Beef cheeks, About 1.2 kg
  • 1 Onion, Diced
  • 1 Carrot, Diced
  • 1 stalk Celery, Diced
  • 6 cloves Garlic, Peeled and smashed
  • 1 tsp Black peppercorns
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 4 Tbsp Tomato paste
  • 4 fillets White anchovies, Often found in small jars
  • 250 ml Beer, Guinness or any dark beer
  • 500 ml Beef stock, Stock cubes used here

Spiced carrot purée 

  • 1 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 5 Carrots, Large size
  • 2 cloves Garlic, Peeled and roughly chopped
  • 250 ml Beef stock, Stock cubes used
  • 500 ml Water, Hot
  • 8 Pitted prunes, Whole
  • 1 tsp Smoked paprika
  • 3 Pitted prunes, Reserve for garnish + add to shopping list

Directions

  1. Preheat oven or your pressure cooker, depending on which one you are using.
  2. Season beef with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat oil in the thick-bottomed pan to brown the beef in several batches.
  4. Brown onion until it softens. Add carrots and celery and cook till they are soft. Add garlic, peppercorns, bay leaf, tomato paste and anchovy fillets.
  5. Add beer to deglaze the pan.
  6. Return all the beef to the pan and add stock. Bring to the boil. Cover and fan bake in the oven at 180C for 2 hours (or you can use a pressure cooker like I did and it’s all done in 45 minutes!)
  7. When done, remove beef and set aside.
  8. Reduce the stock further by gently heating the stock, till it has thickened. Pass it though a strainer and pour sauce into a jug for serving.

For the carrot purée:

  1. While the beef cheeks are cooking, prepare the carrot purée.
  2. In a medium hot pan, add a small amount of oil and cook the cumin seeds slightly.
  3. Add carrots and garlic, cook slightly till you see caramelisation around the outsides of the carrot dices and add warm stock and water. Add 8 prunes.
  4. Cook till the water has reduced and carrots are very soft, about 20 minutes. Using a stick blender, blitz the carrots and prunes. Add smoked paprika and salt to taste.

To serve, place a large spoonful of carrot purée on each plate. Place one beef cheek on top of the purée. Quarter each of the 3 reserved prunes and place three quarters on each plate, in with the carrot purée. Drizzle the reduced sauce over and around the plate.

Enjoy!

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