Hound #2 has been niggling me of late to get back to some of my more ‘creative’ cooking, as here in Spain I have gotten a bit slack. Reasons being that: (a) it is way cheap and mucho fun to eat & drink out in Spain; (b) many of the dishes in my kitchen repertoire require ingredients (some are key & non-substitutable) that are very hard to find or are VERY expensive or do not exist at all here in the Basque Country.
So she paid a visit to Movida’s web site (an awesome Spanish restaurant in Melbourne that makes the real deal) and yanked a couple of their recipes that use local Spanish ingredients to make right here in our cocina pequeña. To make a long story very short — this was SUPER YUM SQUARED. We are a bit nutty for anything cooked long & slow, falling off the bone tender & in its own broth of flavoured juices. The sweet touch (in both meanings of the word) here is the use of the Pedro Ximénez sherry, which if you have ever had PX you know the deep, dark, nutty dulce flavour of which I speak.
And we never, ever waste a good thing, so the next day Hound #2 took the leftovers & added some potatoes and some pre-soaked Asturian White Beans to push the stew-thing to another rich & dense level. And to push it to its ultimate pinnacle, day #3 found me pan searing a Duck Confit leg to sit atop the final remnants of the stewy goodness – pure duck & stew & bean heaven. Now for a siesta…
Braised Beef Cheeks with Cauliflower Purée
- 1.5 kg (3 lb 5 oz) beef cheeks
- 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) olive oil
- 3 carrots, roughly chopped
- 1 garlic bulb, halved
- 1 brown onion, sliced
- 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) Pedro Ximenez sherry
- 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) red wine
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 tablespoons thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets
- 185 ml (6 fl oz/¾ cup) cream
- 40g (1 ½ oz) butter
1. Trim the beef cheeks to neaten them up and remove any sinew and silver skin. Season well.
2. Heat half the olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over high heat. Brown the beef cheeks for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden, then remove from the pan.
3. Add the remaining olive oil, then add the carrot, garlic and onion and sauté over high heat for 12-15 minutes, or until well browned. Stir in the sherry, wine, bay leaves, thyme, sea salt and 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) water.
4. Reduce the heat as low as possible, add the beef cheeks, then cover and cook for 3-4 hours, or until the cheeks are beginning to fall apart.
5. Meanwhile, put the cauliflower, cream and butter in a saucepan, season to taste with salt, then cover and cook over low heat for 35 minutes, or until very tender. Place the cauliflower mixture in a blender and process until smooth. Keep the puree warm.
6. The sauce from the beef cheeks should by now be reduced and glaze-like. If it needs further reducing, remove the cheeks from the pan, cover with foil to keep them warm and simmer the sauce over high heat until nicely reduced. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve and return to the pan; gently reheat the cheeks in the sauce if necessary.
Serve the cheeks and their sauce on warm plates with the cauliflower puree on the side.