As it’s the week to celebrate St Patricks Day something tenuously traditional….with Irish ingredients to celebrate Irish food.
The gauntlet was thrown down by the Bord Bia sponsored competition for Irish Food Bloggers to attend a writing/photography workshop in Weimar, Germany (link here). Irish food is the theme, using Irish Beef.
I wanted to try something I had never done before, but also a recipe that incorporated the kitchen/garden aspect of my blog, using some ingredients from the garden and some techniques that I have incorporated into my repertoire since I started blogging under a year ago.
Beef cheeks are an uncommon ingredient, cheap, but not something you can source in the supermarket. In a flurry of creative inspiration, I phoned my local butchers Ennis Butchers in Rialto and they could source the beef cheeks for about €10 per kg, so in my excitement I ordered 2kg. With no discernible plan in place I reasoned that I could try out a few recipes and settle on the one I enjoyed the best. Delighted with myself I started to research recipes….I didn’t really think it through, from a competitive perspective.
Beef cheeks are the muscles that get through a huge amount of work for the cow. All that chewing means that the beef cheeks need long, slow cooking, which by its nature doesn’t fit into a competition cook-off format. So, my inspirational ingredient is made redundant by its requirement to be cooked for hours. Though perhaps with a pressure cooker, it might just work….
Well to hell with it, I’ve bought the cheeks, and I’m going to use them, regardless of their suitability for competition. So I have a sequence of posts and recipes for beef cheeks to come over the next few weeks.
In these austere times it is great to champion cheap cuts of meat and beef cheeks are great value. Rich, meaty, comforting and amazingly tender. The meat flakes and falls apart when prodded with a fork and the dark exterior reveals a meltingly textured interior.
From the garden I used Mibuna leaves which have come again since the winter. They are tough, dark green, mustardy leaves which I wilted in a a frying pan with a little butter and stock. The astringent Mibuna leaves cut across the meaty beef and sweetened Guinness/Soy glaze.
The pickled vegetables are more than a garnish or an afterthought. More of my food today incorporates a pickled element and here they are lightly pickled, adding texture and a bright fresh counter point to the meat.
Recipe: Beef Cheek with a Guinness and Soy Glaze
- 1 Beef Cheek
- Cup of Guinness
- Half cup of Soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons of Sugar
- Preparation: Trim the cheeks, removing the silverskin and any membrane from the outside, and cut them in half (one cheek easily being enough for two servings, if not three).
- Marinade: Wanting to keep a traditional Irish element, I used about a cup of Guinness for the marinade, and added half a cup of soy, and two tablespoons of sugar to help cure the meat whilst marinating. The cheeks and marinade were wrapped in a sealed bag (with the air squeezed out) in the fridge for 24 hours.
- Cook: Browned and sealed the cheeks in a frying pan and added them back to the marinade (to which I added more stock/Guinness) to slow cooked the cheeks in the oven at the lowest setting in a large saucepan with a cartouche (circle of parchment paper) and the lid on. I slow cooked them for about 4 hours until done (until they easily slid off a small sharp knife). Remove the cheeks from the marinade and let them rest covered in foil and reduce marinade on a high heat with the lid off until the marinade is reduced to a sauce like consistency and add the cheeks back to the reduced marinade to glaze and coat.
Recipe: Cauliflower Puree
- Half a head of Cauliflower
- Cup and a half of Milk
- Half a cup of butter
- Peeled Garlic Clove
- Salt and Pepper
- Preparation: Remove outer green leaves and chop the cauliflower into matchbox sized pieces.
- Cook: Add the cauliflower to a small saucepan with all the other ingredients and bring to a boil with the lid on, then reduce to a simmer. Keep an eye on the cauliflower to make sure it doesn’t dry out or burn. Add a little more milk if necessary to keep from burning. You want the cauliflower to be tender and for there to be about 2 to 3 tablespoons of cooking liquid to be retained.
- Puree: When done add the cauliflower and the cooking liquid to a blender and blitz. I usually I keep a little of the liquid back and add to the pureed cauliflower as it is always easier to add liquid as required and impossible to remove it if you’ve used too much. Depending on whether you are using a food processor, blender or stick blender you may want to pass the puree through a sieve so that you get the right consistency
Recipe: Pickled Carrot and Shallots
- One Carrot
- Two Shallots
- Two cups of hot water from tap to cover
- Four Tablespoons of Rice Vinegar or White Wine Vinegar
- Two teaspoons of Sugar
- Preparation: Use a vegetable peeler to shave the carrot lengthways into long thin strips. Thinly slice the peeled shallots lengthways through the root.
- Pickle: Use steaming hot water from the tap and cover the thinly sliced vegetables (keep the container small, not a large bowl) Add vinegar and sugar to taste. Let stand for at least an hour.