Saturday, 25 February 2012

Ox Cheek Pie

Ox cheeks, in case you’re wondering are also known as beef cheeks. Ox cheeks though, sound far more appetising and gastronomic than beef cheeks or cow's face!

I’ve seen these a lot recently on telly etc …  with various food types extolling the virtues of this really tasty and very cheap alternative to stewing steak

The cheeks of a cow like those of a woman are almost constantly in use. This makes them a very tough piece of meat, therefore it takes a long slow cook and in this case, overnight marinating as well

Don’t be put of by the cheek, it really is a lovely piece of meat and once cooked, resembles any other slowly cooked piece of beef, all those lovely fibres falling apart swimming in a delicious gravy.

That sad part is I can only find these at the farmers market, they’ve yet to make it to my local butchers lets alone the supermarket

Anyway I glad I got them because they were brilliant

About 3.5 Hours Cooking plus over night marinating

Serves around 6

Braised Ox Cheeks

2 Ox Cheeks Trimmed and Cubed
3 Carrots cut into chunks
1 Onion chopped

3 Cloves of Garlic finely chopped
6 whole Shallots, peeled
Knob of butter
About 80g seasoned flour
Few Sprigs of Thyme
1 Stick of Celery finely chopped
1 Bottle of Red wine
500 Ml of Good beef stock
1 Packet of Button Mushrooms (you know the type, pre packed in the supermarket …Bad Chef!)


340g Plain Flour
60g Beef Dripping/Lard
110g Butter
Pinch of Salt
Ice cold water
22cm pie dish

Marinate your cheeks
Place the ox cheeks, carrots and thyme in a bowl and empty in the red wine. Mix all around, cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge over night

Remove the cheeks about 1.5 hours before you're ready to start, to allow them to come up to room temperature

Preheat oven to 16 degrees

Braising the Cheeks
Sift out the cheeks with a slotted spoon and pat them dry with some kitchen towel.
In a large flame-proof casserole dish heat a tablespoon of olive oil, fry the cheeks in batches so that they are browned all over, remove with a slotted spoon and put to one side.

Tip the onions into dish, fry gently for a min or two, cover with a lid turn down the heat and sweat for about 5 mins

Remove lid, turn up the heat, add the Garlic and Celery and fry for one min
Tip in the wine marinade and Carrots, boil rapidly for about 10 mins
Add the beef stock, the cheeks and the Bouquet Garni, cover and cook in the over for around 3 hours or until the cheeks are falling apart ...... Meanwhile get the shallots and the Mushrooms going .............

........Browning the Shallots
In a frying pan place the shallots, a knob of butter and enough water to cover the shallots.
Boil rapidly for around 15 mins or until the water has almost gone, now keep an eye on the pan and keep cooking, you should be left with a butter mixture. Keep the shallots moving around the pan so that they brown nicely. Once complete tip the contents of the pan into the ox cheek pan and return to the oven.

..........Browning the Mushrooms
Melt a knob of butter into a medium sauce pan, tip in the mushroom, add seasoning and fry until the mushrooms are soft and golden in colour, tip this into the ox cheek pan and keep cooking for the remainder of the time

Once cooked, check seasoning then you’re ready to serve. Mash potatoes goes really well

If making a pie, allow to cool, the next day is wonderful because the flavours develop really well

Making Pastry
Sift the flour into a bowl  add the salt, cube the butter and dripping then add to the bowl
You can either use your finger tips to rub the mixture to what resembles breadcumbs or pulse in a food processor
Next, a little at a time add splash of water and using a normal knife mix together.
Keep going until it starts to stick together.
Using only your finger tips bring into a ball of pastry, cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge for around 30 mins

Making the pie
Preheat the oven to 180
Cut the pastry in half, put one half back in the fridge and roll out the other to the shape of your pie dish and about the thickness of a pound coin.

Line your dish, trim and blind bake in the oven for around 20 mins

Once cool, fill the dish with your ox cheek stew thing, roll out the remaining pastry to slightly larger than your dish, drape over the top, trim and crimp the edges.

Egg wash thoroughly, cut a slit in the middle and bake in the oven for about 30-40 mins until the top is golden and the sauce bubbles up from the slit in the middle

You’re now done and free to amaze people with your masterpiece

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Potato Dal, Curry Thing

Everyone knows curry right, each person has their own criterion for what a proper curry should be. To some and I would offer most, a curry man's curry is Indian in its roots. There are however many curries from all over the world, several east Asian countries have developed their own curries with uniquely eastern flavours. This huge variety provides an amazing array of tastes, spices and ingredients.

What I have here is something Chris and I developed over some time. Eventually getting the spice mix right, inclusion of lentils, water, tomatoes and lastly adding your own yoghurt to each plate at the end, as stirring it into the pot makes it split. 

I'm sure at some point we'll add something else but for now here is our take on vegetarian curry. It's hearty, extremely tasty with just the right balance of heat, spice, acidity and texture too keep even the most beer laden of curry-philes happy.

By the way, I added a lot of coriander, some people, Lisa included, hate it but I love the stuff, especially with this, they complement each other perfectly

Potato Dal

Spice Mix
7 Cardamom Pods, seeds only
1 Dried Birds Eye Chilli
3 Tsps Cumin seeds
1 Tsp Black Pepper Corns
2 Cloves
½ Tsp Fenugreek Seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1tsp Black Mustard seeds
1tsp Black Onion Seeds
2 Curry Leaves
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Turmeric

Other Ingredients

100g Red Lentils
100g Split peas
4 Large potatoes peeled and cubed
1 Tin of Chickpeas
1 Tin of Tomatoes
4 or 5 roughly chopped ripe tomatoes about to turn or another tin of tomatoes
500ml Veg Stock
1 Very large onion (or two medium) sliced
4 Cloves of Garlic finely chopped

1 Thumb size piece of ginger finely chopped
Handful of curry leaves
1tsp Black Mustard seeds
1tsp Black Onion Seeds

1 Large Tub of Natural Yoghurt
Bunch of Coriander
Chopped Red Chilli

Rice, Naan, Chapatti to serve

Soak the Lentils and split peas for an hour, rinse under a sieve until water runs clear. Simmer gently in water for an hour then drain

Take all the spice mix ingredients and toast in heavy pan until they start to smoke. Using a pestle and mortar or Grinder, grind until you achieve a powder.

In a large saucepan add 1 tablespoons of vegetable oil and a knob of butter. Heat and add the Mustard and Onion seeds, when they start to pop add the onions, stir fry for a minute or two then reduce the heat and sweat for 5 mins or until the onions are soft.

Increase the heat, add the garlic and ginger and stir fry for a min

Add the spice powder and stir-fry for 1 min.

Next add the tomatoes and bring to the boil, add the rest of the ingredients apart from the stock, stir well until all elements are coated. Add the stock and bay leaves, bring to the boil stirring frequently and reduce to a simmer, partially cover and simmer for 2 hours stirring occasionally

When its cooked and has the consistency, taste and season .

Serve in a big bowl with loads of Corriander and the accompaniment of your choice
Add the Yoghurt and or some fresh chillis to the plate