First off, I apologise for these lousy photos, but I promise that I’d never write about something that I didn’t think was worth the effort and/or the calories, so please do not let them discourage you from making any of the dishes that I write about. I have a few Spanish dishes to write about, and I’m positively brimming with excitement!
Last Thursday, we had a few people over for dinner, so I decided to make it a Pizza and Tapas Night. When I was preparing the menu the night before, I went a little…. overboard (as you do). I think it’s because my brother had told me a horror story about how he and his friends had purchased a group-buying voucher for a taperia and they were given so little to eat that it barely seemed like entrees. And they all moved onto Chinatown where they had an actual dinner. Reflecting on that probably made me add ‘just one more dish’, more accurately about four.
I ended up spending too much on groceries and rushing home to get started (not before scarfing down a bagel with butter and brie, of course). Then I proceeded to make a right mess of the kitchen, and I ran around like a headless chicken 20 minutes before everything was meant to be served. Good thing my parents saved dinner by lending me several much-needed hands. By the end of the night, I hadn’t cooked everything that I had thought of, which in hindsight was a good thing cause I felt like I needed a forklift to remove me from the dinner table, and I probably wasn’t the only one. Unfortunately, the crazy menu also meant that I didn’t get to take a lot of photos that night, which is a shame cause I had planned to tell you guys so much!
Anyway, I think I was saved from playing the headless chicken for a bit longer by this dish, which was definitely a winner. Tender beef cheeks slow-cooked in a mixture of sherry and tomatoes, you prepare the beef first, then the sauce, and then it can either sit in your oven or slow cooker. I couldn’t resist, so I topped it off with grated cheese, which then melted into the sauce for cheesy goodness – so maybe this wasn’t the most authentic step I took! Whilst you can serve this by itself, it was perfect with slices of baguette. You can also make this with creamy mashed potatoes or rice. I’m the first to admit that I’m not an expert in Spanish food, but ‘delicious’ is never really caged to authenticity, now is it?
Spanish Braised Beef Cheeks with Sherry and Tomatoes
Adapted from the Australian Gourmet Traveller
- 1.5 kg beef cheeks, fat removed and cut into chunks (slightly larger than bite-sized)
- 2 1/2 tsp salt (extra to taste)
- 1 1/2 tsp pepper (extra to taste)
- 2/3 cup plain flour
- about 10 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 x 400g can of chopped tomatoes
- 2 onions, sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 sprigs of thyme
- 1 cup of dry sherry
- 1 cup of chicken stock
- 1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp vinegar
- 1 tsp imitation saffron
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- to serve: 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- In a large bowl, mix the beef cheeks with the salt and pepper and coat with flour.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan, and fry the beef cheeks until brown for about 2 minutes on each side in several batches, depending on the size of your pan. Do not crowd the pan. Remove and set aside in a casserole dish or the pot of your slow cooker. Continue adding oil and frying the beef until all have been browned.
- Add another tablespoon of oil and fry the onions. Once slightly golden, add in the garlic, thyme, saffron and paprika. Stir for a minute before deglazing the pan with the sherry. Let this boil for a minute and add in the chopped tomatoes, brown sugar, vinegar and chicken stock.
- Simmer for three minutes and season with salt and pepper to your liking. Pour this tomato mixture into the casserole dish or pot.
- If using oven, preheat to 160 degrees Celsius and braise with the lid on for 2 hours. For those with a slow cooker, the beef needs to cook for 2 hours.
- Pour into the serving dish and top with grated cheese. Serve immediately.