Yesterday I spent my day off wandering around the St. Lawrence Market for hours. I talked to really sweet people about vegetables and meats and cheese and tea. They gave me small things to nibble on and I enjoyed spending a morning doing nothing but paying attention to small things. Sniffing the fragrant butthole of a bright red apple and tasting a slip of cheese made in a cave somewhere very European.
And then had to lug home 50 pounds of random shit all the way home through the rain. As soon as I was in the door my boots and pants were off and I spread out my loot across the kitchen floor. A huge golden jar of honey, smokey smelling coffee from Tanzania, blue cheese from Quebec, crunchy red apples, beautiful chubby carrots, the fattest pinkest pork chops ever and a special package for experimenting. BEEF CHEEKS! The lady at the butcher counter shook her head at me when I told her what I was making for dinner and said I was crazy.
This recipe starts off by browning the beef cheeks in olive oil. The smell is amazing. Then you cook a mire poix in whats left in the pan, and pour in so much red wine, letting it bubble and reduce. The sauce is thick and dark from the cocoa, and already tastes amazing even before it cooks for 5 more hours.
Cory thought the beef cheeks were super tasty. He really liked the nice soft ribbons of fat in the beef cheeks. The texture was similar to pulled pork or short ribs but way cheaper because its basically offal. Being a recovering vegetarian I wasn’t a fan of the fatty parts but the meaty parts literally melted in your mouth. The sauce was intense and one of the best tastes ever. We saved an entire jar of it and are going to use it for leftovers tomorrow– stay tuned for recipes!
Braised Beef Cheeks
4 (12-oz) beef cheeks, trimmed of fat
4 shallots, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, slivered
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups dry red wine
1 can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Heat a couple tablespoons oil in an ovenproof 6-quart wide heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. While oil is heating, pat beef cheeks dry and season with salt and pepper. Brown beef, without crowding, on all sides and transfer to a bowl. Add a couple more tablespoons of olive oil and cook onion, carrot, and celery over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and softened, about 10 minutes.
Stir cocoa powder into vegetable mixture, then deglaze with wine and scrape up any brown bits. Increase heat to high and boil until liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes.
Return cheeks (with any juices) to pot and add tomatoes with juice, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then braise, covered, in middle of oven until very tender, about 3-5 hours.
Brussel Sprouts & Pecans
1 cup pecans
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp crumbled blue cheese of the stinkiest persuasion possible
Splash of red wine
Salt & Pepper
Toast pecans in a dry pan until they smell lovely, set aside.
Wash and cut brussel sprouts in half. On medium high heat add butter to your pan and when it sizzles and starts to brown throw in your brussel sprouts. Cook them until they are bright green and tender. Add in your blue cheese and pecans. Deglaze the pan with a couple of splashes of red wine (or water). Season with salt and pepper. Voila! Tasty green funky goodness.
Price: $10 for beef cheeks, $4 for brussel sprouts, $2.50 in pecans, $10 bottle of wine, $2 can of tomatoes = $28.50 or $7/person
Healthiness: Super Healthy!
Time: 30 mins prep, 3-5 hours cook time