Just under a month to go until Spring!
Thankfully, this Winter hasn’t been so bad as there weren’t that many rainy days, but regardless, the weather still calls for something comforting. This weather is perfect for braises and what makes them even better is that the cheaper cuts of meats are often used. Which is perfect for a food-loving uni student, there’s no need to resort to having a typical student diet, you know, the one that features two-minute noodles, pasta and cans of tuna…
Having first had this dish cooked by Karen at the Food Blogger’s dinner, the only thing I remembered about it was how incredibly tender the meat was and the smooth, creamy cauliflower purée. I didn’t realise it at the time but it was actually beef cheeks that I was having. So the hunt was on to find these cheeks.
Hopping from butcher to another in Cabramatta and having no luck after each time, I was almost convinced that they couldn’t understand my Vietnamese. But it seems that they just don’t have it because it isn’t a cut of meat that is commonly used around this neck of the woods. I ended my futile search in Cabra when a lady manning a butcher told me that cows don’t have cheeks. I simply laughed at her and asked her how the heck do they eat!?
Returning back home, I called butchers near my place hoping that they would say magic words “yes we have beef cheeks” but sadly no one did.
Some Googling lead me to find Establishment 218 in Alexandria; a butcher selling premium meats to the public at wholesale prices. Once again, I called up to make sure they had them (even though I had checked the pricelist online beforehand). “Yes we have plenty…” Brilliant!
I was cutting it fine leaving my place during peak hour and hoping to make it before they closed. I got there at 5pm on the dot and managed to let myself in. You see, this is not a regular butcher, like the procedure you go through to get on a ride in a theme park, there’s a systematic way to proceed through the store. You walk into a big cool room and choose your meat (which are all vacuum packed and sealed), make your way to the counter and pay, then you could get your meat custom cut by the butcher, free of charge. A very efficient way of doing things I’d say!
The cheeks I got were from Bindaree Gold grass-fed cows and $8.99/kg! At this price and quality, these were fantastic value! After this little ordeal, a part of me wanted to show that lady these beef cheeks. I couldn’t wait to start cooking with them.
A while ago I was given a Morphy Richards 6.5L Slow Cooker, thanks to Brad from Kitchenware Direct; which you’ll also get the opportunity to win. The beauty of slow cookers is that you can just dump your ingredients in the cooker and walk away to find that several hours later you have a marvellous and effortless meal.
Here are some of my thoughts on the cooker:
- With a capacity of 6.5L, the cooker is big enough to serve at least 6-8 people
- The removal bowl makes for easy cleaning
- It is dead easy to use; just turn it on, set the cooking time, hit the “cook” button and that is all. Once it’s done, the machine will keep the food warm until you are ready to serve/eat (perfect for partners/family of food bloggers; no more waiting for food to get cold as they photograph the dish)
- It’s a shame that the cooker doesn’t have a browning function, as this would definitely make the entire cooking process easier and involving less cleaning up
Overall, the slow cooker is great! If only the cooker had a function where you can set the exact time that the machine starts cooking eg midday, so that it’s ready by the time you get home from work. But perhaps it is wishful thinking.
Thanks to the lovely guys at Kitchenware Direct, they are giving one lucky reader a chance to win one of these slow cookers. All you have to do is tell me what uncommon cut of meat you use and for what OR what slow cooked dish you’d make if you won this cooker. This competition is open to Australian residents only and ends at 11:59PM (AEST) on the 16th August 2012. Good luck!
Congratulations to Kate on winning the slow cooker! Eating beef hearts as a substitute for steak as a uni student sure is something!
Recipe from Movida Rustica by Frank Camorra and Richard Cornish
Serves 8 (or 4 very hungry people)
4 beef cheeks (about 1.5kgs)
125 ml olive oil
3 carrots, roughly chopped
1 garlic bulb, halved
1 brown onion, sliced
500 ml Pedro Ximenez Sherry (you might be able to use a sweet sherry as a substitute)
500 ml red wine (I used a Cabernet Merlot)
3 bay leaves
3 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp salt
1 cauliflower, broken into florets and boiled until soft
185 ml cream
40 grams butter
- Trim the beef cheeks and remove any new sinew and silver skin. Season with salt and pepper.
- Heat half the olive oil in a saucepan over high heat. Brown the beef cheeks for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden, then remove from the pan.
- Add the remaining olive oil, then add the carrot, garlic, onion and sauté over high heat for about 5 minutes, or until well browned. Stir in the sherry, wine, bay leaves, thyme and sea salt.
- Transfer the contents to the slow cooker and add the beef cheeks, cover and cook for 6.5 to 7 hours, or until the cheeks are beginning to fall apart.
- Put the cauliflower, cream and butter in a saucepan over medium heat until butter melts and cream heats through; season to taste with salt. Place the cauliflower mixture in a blender and process until smooth. Keep the purée warm.
- Take out some of the braising liquid and strain it through a fine sieve and into a small saucepan. Reduce the sauce over high heat until nicely reduced and glaze-like.
- Halve the beef cheeks (if serving for 8 people) and serve the cheeks with the cauliflower purée and reduced sauce.