Friday, March 23, 2012

Recipe: Braised beef cheeks - sous-vide and traditional

A plate of beautifully braised and glazed beef cheeks can be the centrepiece of a fine meal.  Done right, you can practically cut the meat with a spoon.  If you choose, you can use this recipe with veal cheeks, but you will need more individual cheeks as the size will be much smaller - but your end result will be even more tender.  The recipe given will give proportions to make this dish traditionally, but if you have a vacuum sealer and circulator (or water oven) you can get away with much less liquid - you will only need enough to surround the cheeks in the bag, though you may eventually want more for the sauce.  If you choose to sous-vide, you will need to allow much more time for the cooking process, but the end result will knock your socks off.  There's absolutely nothing wrong with the traditional method, but sous-vide takes it to the next level.  Some operations will braise certain items in a circulator bath for two or three days!  With both methods you will want to give at least a day after cooking until you serve so the meat can adequately reincorporate all the flavours and moisture you've gone to such trouble to give them.

You will need:

2kg              beef cheeks
4                  onions - chopped
2                  carrots - chopped
2                  celery - chopped
6                  garlic cloves - crushed
4 Tbs           tomato paste
500 ml         red wine
3 L               beef stock
2                  bay leaf
6 sprigs        thyme
1 sprig         rosemary
8                  parsley stems
pinch           cocoa powder (or a small chunk of bittersweet chocolate)
to taste        black pepper
to taste        salt
to taste        dry rub spices - cumin, paprika


 - if your cheeks didn't come from the butcher with excess fat and silverskin removed, clean the cheeks of them now
 - give the cheeks a nice dry rub with pepper, cumin, paprika - anything else that tickles your fancy, but no salt yet.  If you have the time, let them sit in the fridge for a day.
 - get a large pan hot with some oil, season the cheeks well with salt and sear them to a nice dark colour and set aside
 - saute your mirepoix, starting with the carrots, onion and celery, then add the garlic
 - add the tomato paste to the mirepoix and let it colour
 - add the cocoa (or chocolate) and mix in
 - leave the mirepoix in and deglaze with the red wine and reduce back down to a thick paste
 - add the stock and herbs

Note: at this point, if you are doing sous-vide method, use less stock and do not bring it up to heat.  You will want to put the cheeks in a bag (or bags) and add the cool braising liquid, vegetables, herbs and all, and seal on a loose setting.  Set your water bath to 84C / 183F and set the cheeks in for 6 hours.  If you want to go longer set the bath at 78C / 172F and let them go for 12 hours.  When cooked, set the bags in an ice bath to cool completely, then follow the instructions as per the traditional method after resting in the fridge a day.  This is where you may need a bit more stock to make your sauce.

 Method (continued):

 - add the cheeks to the braising liquid and bring up to barely a gentle simmer
 - set your oven to 275F / 180C
 - cover the pan and place in oven for 4-5 hours
 - check the cheeks (carefully - they may want to break apart) if they are tender, take the pan out of the oven and set on a rack to cool - if you can set the pan in an ice bath and gently stir occasionally to cool
 - let cool completely in the liquid and keep in the fridge for a day
 - take the fat off the cold broth, then the cheeks, and set aside
 - heat up the broth, then strain it through your finest seive or cheesecloth
 - reduce the broth to a sauce
 - reheat the cheeks gently in the sauce
 - gently remove the cheeks from the sauce and slice or serve directly to your plate
 - top the meat with a bit of your sauce and serve

No comments:

Post a Comment

Impressions, thoughts, comments? Let me know.