Beef cheeks braised in red wine

Also known as Joues de Bœuf à la Bourguignonne in it’s native tongue, this was a great autumnal dish full of flavour and richness. As often with braises it’s better the next day so make it in advance if you can.

This serves about 4 people.

Ingredients for Beef cheeks braised in red wine:
100g plain flour
10g salt
10g pepper
700g beef cheeks, cut into 12 large pieces
50ml rapeseed oil
150g carrots, roughly chopped
150g onions, roughly chopped
1.1 litres good-quality red wine
4 cloves garlic, chopped

For the bouquet garni:
1 stick celery
4 stalks flat-leaf parsley
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs thyme
3 green leek leaves

For the garnish:

120g baby onions or small shallots
30g unsalted butter, plus extra to glaze
½ tsp caster sugar
200g baby carrots
120g, smoked streaky bacon, cut into lardons
12 button mushrooms

For the mashed potato:
800g potatoes, such as Maris Piper, King Edward or Idaho
1 litre water
25g salt
200g unsalted butter
100ml double cream
salt and pepper
flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped, to garnish (optional)

How to make Beef cheeks braised in red wine:
For the mash, peel the potatoes, cut into quarters and place in a large saucepan. Cover with the water and add the salt. Slowly bring to the boil and simmer until tender – if you boil them too hard, they will take on too much salt. The timing will depend on the size of your chunks.

Drain in a colander and allow to dry by leaving them to sit and steam in the colander for a few minutes. Pass the potato and butter through a mouli or return them to the pan and mash until smooth.

Meanwhile, pour the cream into a small saucepan and warm it through gently. Place the pan of mashed potato back on a medium heat and stir to dry the potato out. Add the warm cream and mix it in with a spoon until very smooth. Check the seasoning, garnish with the parsley, if using, and serve immediately.

To make the beef cheeks, heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Place the flour on a plate, season with salt and pepper, then roll the pieces of meat in it until lightly coated. Heat the oil in a large, heavy casserole until very hot. Brown the meat quickly and evenly. Add the chopped carrot and onion, cover, and leave to sweat gently for 10 minutes.

Holding the lid over the casserole, pour away all the cooking fat. Add the wine and stir to deglaze. Bring to the boil, then add the garlic and bouquet garni, and season. Replace the lid and cook in the oven for about 2½ hours, until the meat is very tender. Stir regularly during cooking, adding a little water if necessary.

Meanwhile, place the baby onions in a saucepan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Cover with 50ml water, or enough so that the onions are only just covered, and stir in the butter and sugar. Place a circle of greaseproof paper (a cartouche) over the surface of the liquid and bring to the boil. Simmer until all the liquid has evaporated and the onions are glazed and shiny. Keep warm, covered, over a very low heat.

At the same time, blanch the baby carrots in boiling salted water, drain well, then return to the pan and toss in enough butter to coat them until they are shiny. Fry the bacon in a small frying pan over a high heat, until crisp. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, then add the mushrooms to the pan, frying them in the bacon fat, until golden and tender.

Remove the casserole from the oven. Lift out the pieces of meat with a slotted spoon and discard the vegetables and the bouquet garni. Place the meat in a clean pan, pass the sauce through a fine sieve over the meat and gently stir in the bacon and mushrooms.

Serve the daube on plates with mashed potato, the glazed button onions and carrots, and the sauce over the top.


Slow Cooked Fillet Steak, Pommes Puree, Braised Shallots, Veal Jus

steak_jus-1This was a nice dinner where I got to use a few different techniques.
I wanted to make a salad or something green to go with it but ran out of space and time.
Cooking the fillet steak at around 60C in the oven for a fairly long time (55 minutes) ensures that 95 % of the steak is medium rare (around 56C core temperature) and you also get a very uniform result throughout the steak.
It’s important to use a fairly hot pan when you sear the steak before roasting them in the oven since this step have to happen very quickly so you don’t overcook the steak.
The sauce is quite simple, just sauteing some mirepoix and then reducing veal stock. It has a fantastic umami flavor that really complements the beef.

This recipe serves two persons.

Ingredients for the steak:
2 fillet steaks, 175g each
Groundnut oil (or other neutral oil with high smoking point)

Preparing the steak:
Bring the steak out of the fridge at least one hour before cooking to ensure that the steaks come up to room temperature. Cooking the steaks from cold will lower the temperature of the pan.
Turn on the oven to 60C, preferably use an oven thermometer to monitor the temperature.
Heat a frying pan on high heat.
Oil, then salt and pepper the steaks on all sides.
Have a small oven tray ready for the steaks.
When the frying pan is very hot, sear the steaks one by one on all sides. It’s easiest to hold the steaks with a tonge when doing this step. This step should take maximum 30 seconds per steak. Once seared all over put steaks on oven tray.
Transfer to middle of the oven and roast for 55 minutes. Half way through the cooking time flip the steaks over. Once removed from the oven let the steaks rest on a rack for a few minutes.

Ingredients for the braised shallots:
6 shallots, peeled with root area left intact
500ml chicken stock
1 sprig of thyme
2 garlic cloves, peeled
25g butter
Rapeseed oil

Preparing the braised shallots:
Saute the shallots in a bit of oil until golden brown all around. Add the butter, thyme and garlic and cook for another two minutes.
Add the chicken stock, cover and let simmer gently for about 25 minutes or until the shallots are very soft and tender.
Check for seasoning.

Ingredients for the pommes puree:
500g Ratte potatoes (or Charlottes), scrubbed but not cleaned.
125g unsalted butter, chilled
125ml whole milk
White pepper

Preparing the pommes puree:
Cover the potatoes with 1 liter of cold water and 0.5 tablespoon of course salt. Bring to the boil and once it reached the boiling point lower the temperature to a simmer and cover with a lid.
Boil the potatoes for 25 minutes. Drain and peel.
Put the potatoes (while still warm) through a potato ricer or a mouli fitted with the finest disk into a clean saucepan.
Put the mashed potatoes over a medium heat and stir vigorously with a spatula for 5 minutes to dry out the flesh a bit.
Meanwhile rinse a small saucepan with water, pour it out (do not wipe dry) then add the milk. Warm the milk until boiling point and then take it off the heat.
Lower heat for the potato pan to low. Add the butter bit by bit while stirring with spatula, keep adding until it’s all incorporated and the puree is homogenous.The potato and butter might separate a bit at this stage but keep stirring and it will come together.
Add the milk in a thin stream while stirring briskly. When all the milk is incorporated you should have a silky smooth puree. If you want it even smoother you can pass it through a fine sieve.
Check for seasoning.

Ingredients for the veal jus:
1 carrot, diced
1 leek (white part only), diced
0.5 medium onion, diced
1 sprig of thyme
Rapeseed oil
Red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz or something similar)
300ml veal stock

Preparing the veal jus:
Heat a saute pan (preferably the same one you cooked the steaks in) to medium high heat. Add a splash of oil and then saute the carrot, leeks and onions until golden brown, add the sprig of thyme. Deglaze with a generous splash of red wine. Boil until red wine is evaporated.
Add the veal stock and let this simmer for a few minutes. When the sauce had a bit of body, pass through a sieve into a small sauce pan. Reduce further until you achieve a semi-sticky consistency.


Barbequed Chicken with Chili-Aioli

chicken-1I woke today to a pleasant surprise – Delivery of my very own barbeque!
Barbequeing brings back fond memories of my childhood in Sweden where everyone barbeques as soon as the sun manage to stay up for more than a few hours. We did a lot of barbequeing in my family, at one point I think we had something like three DYI barbeques built with bricks scattered around the garden.
This is the first thing I cooked on the Weber. Gutsy flavours for sure but that’s what you want sometimes.I pared it with quite a heady Marsanne which worked quite well. Could also go with a medium bodied red wine.

This makes enough for about 3-4 persons.

Ingredients for the Barbequed Chicken:
700g chicken breast fillets
2 garlic cloves
1 lime
Half a red chili
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp smoked paprika powder
A few dashes of Tamari soy sauce
Salt (smoked sea salt if you have it)

Preparing the barbequed chicken:
Start by preparing the marinade. Press the garlic cloves and the lime into a bowl. De-seed and finely chop the chili. Mix in the chili and the rest of the ingredients.
Cut the chicken fillets into 2 cm big cubes. Put them into the marinade, mix around to make them all coated by marinade. Put some cling film on top of the bowl and marinade in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours, preferably more. Take it out about once per hour and mix it around a bit.
Take it out of the fridge 30 minutes before you want to start cooking it.
Thread the chicken pieces on skewers and barbeque for about 6-10 minutes. Turning the skewers halfway through.

Ingredients for the potatoes:
750g Jersey Royal potatoes
A few sprigs of thyme
2 cloves of garlic
5 black peppercorns

Preparing the potatoes:
Put a pot of water on to a rolling bowl. Add about a small handful of sea salt to it. You want the water to be quite salty, a bit like sea water. Leave the skin on the garlic but crush them a bit with a chef knife. Add the garlic to the pot with the thyme and peppercorns.
Add the potatoes and let them boil for 15 minutes.
Drain and let cool.
When you are ready to barbeque put the potatoes on and turn them regularly. They will be ready in about 6-10 minutes.

Ingredients for the chili-aioli:
2 egg yolks (in UK I recommend Burford Brown Clarence Court eggs), at room temperature
2 garlic cloves
1 – 2 limes
250 ml groundnut oil (or any other neutral oil), at room temperature
0.25 tsp red chili paste
Salt (smoked sea salt if you have it)
A bit of cayenne pepper

Preparing the chili-aioli:
Press the garlic and one of the limes into a glass bowl. Add salt and pepper, egg yolks and chili paste. Whisk together with a balloon whisk.
Slowly add the oil first to ensure that the emulsion is forming, whisking constantly. Whisk until all the oil has been incorporated.
Check for seasoning and some cayenne pepper if it’s not hot enough. Add more salt, pepper, lime juice if needed.


Jersey Royal Potato Salad

It’s Spring and the arrival of Jersey Royal potatoes is a true delight.
Here I turn them into a quick and easy potato salad for a weekday supper. Serve the potato salad for instance with a few slices of prosciutto crudo.

This serves about two as a main course.

Ingredients for mayonnaise:
2 medium egg yolks (free range please)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 pinches of salt
1 pinch of cayenne pepper
300 ml groundnut oil (or other unscented oil)
1 lemon

Ingredients for the potato salad:
750 g Jersey Royal potatoes
A few salad onions

Preparing the mayonnaise:
With a balloon whisk – Whisk the egg yolks, mustard, salt and cayenne together in a glass bowl. Gradually, at a very slow trickle, whisk in the oil. This early stage is the most delicate and if you do not mix in the oil very slowly the mayonnaise might curdle.
When you mixed in about half the oil, whisk in the lemon juice from half the lemon to thin it down. Continue adding the oil, you can add it quicker at this stage, until it’s all incorporated.
Check for seasoning and correct with more salt, cayenne or lemon juice if needed.

Preparing the potato salad:
Boil a pot of water, add about a small handful of salt and then the potatoes to the boiling water. They will take about 15 – 20 minutes until tender. When done, drain and place on a tray to cool down to room temperature.
When they potatoes have cooled down, cut them into bite sized pieces and add to a bowl. Thinly slice the salad onions, as much as you prefer, and toss it together with the potatoes. Add some salt and pepper and mix well with a healthy dose of the mayo.


Steak with Potato Wedges and Sauce Béarnaise

Ingredients for the potato wedges:
3 medium to large sized potatoes per person (I used Maris Piper)
Handful or so of fresh rosemary twigs
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
Two garlic cloves
Olive oil
Salt (preferably Maldon)

Preparing the potato wedges:
Bring a pot of water to the boil and put in the thyme sprigs and garlic gloves (with their skins on but crush them a bit with a knife).
Turn the oven on to 200 C. Peel the potatoes and slice each one into six wedges. Put the wedges into the boiling water and let them boil for 5 – 10 minutes. Drain and discard the thyme and garlic.
Put the wedges on an oven tray, drizzle olive oil on top and mix them up a bit so they are all covered by oil. Turn the wedges so that the sharp edge is facing upwards. Season with salt and pepper. Tear off as rosemary leaves and distribute evenly over the potatoes.
Roast in the oven for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes turn the oven to grill, 225 C, to get a nice crispy exterior. After about 5 minutes under the grill the potatoes should be ready.
Turn off the oven and leave the door slightly ajar if you need to keep them warm.

Ingredients for the salad:
Rocket salad leaves
Baby plum tomatoes

Preparing the salad:
Cut the tomatoes in two, combine with the rocket leaves. Dress with the vinaigrette.

Ingredients for the vinaigrette:
50 ml Champagne vinegar
150 ml extra virgin olive oil

Preparing the vinaigrette:
Make sure that the oil and vinegar is at room temperature since this makes it easier to form the emulsion. Whisk the vinegar and oil together in a bowl until a good emulsion is formed. Season with salt and pepper. It’s better to prepare the vinaigrette 1-3 hours before needed to let the flavors meld.

More to follow…