Beef Cheeks with Mustard Fruits
Beef cheeks are a super cut to know about and are still very inexpensive – you’ll need to order them ahead from your butcher. They are absolutely packed with meaty flavour, and the mustard fruits perk up the whole thing. Serves 4 –6
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1kg (21⁄4 lb) beef cheeks
110g (4oz) streaky bacon, cut into lardons
8 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
8 garlic cloves, peeled
6 very ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
salt, freshly ground pepper and a sprinkle of sugar
1.2 litres (2 pints) Beef Stock
500ml (18fl oz) full-bodied red wine
225ml (8fl oz) balsamic vinegar
2 sprigs of rosemary
4 sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Preheat the oven to 160°C / 325°F / gas mark 3.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy frying pan. Add the beef cheeks and brown on all sides, then transfer to a heavy casserole. Add the bacon lardons, cook until the fat runs, add to the beef. Toss the onions, carrots, celery and garlic in the oil and bacon fat left in the frying pan. Cook until they just start to brown. Transfer to the casserole. Add the tomatoes. Season well with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar.
Deglaze the pan with the stock and a bit of the wine, bring to the boil and add to the casserole with the remainder of the wine and the vinegar. Add the herbs and stir well. Bring to the boil, cover and cook in the preheated oven for about 3 hours or until the beef cheeks are falling apart. Strain off the liquid and transfer into a saucepan. Put on a high heat and reduce it by up to half. Taste and correct the seasoning. Pour the reduced cooking liquid back over the beef cheeks and add the parsley. Serve with mashed potatoes and mustard fruits.
These crystallised fruit are delicious served as an accompaniment with Bollito Misto or even cold meats.
500ml (18fl oz/2 1/4 cups) cold water
500g (18oz/2 1/4 cups) sugar
a few strips of organic lemon zest (alternatively scrub the rind first before paring)
500g (18oz) fruit e.g. pears, figs, peaches, apricots peeled
50ml (2fl oz/1/4 cup) honey
125ml (4 1/2fl oz/generous 1/2 cup) verjuice
2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) mustard seeds lightly crushed
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 small cinnamon stick
Put the sugar, water and lemon rind into a stainless steel saucepan over a medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, bring to the boil, add the peeled fruit and simmer until tender. Remove, drain and add the honey, verjuice, mustard seeds and spices to the syrup. Bring back to the boil and reduce to a thick syrup, be careful not to allow it to caramelise. Meanwhile, pack the fruit into sterilized jars, cover with the hot syrup and close the jars immediately. Cool and store in a cool place or the refrigerator for a few days before eating. Keeps for months.