When stressed I am most certainly not a fun person to be around. I panic, I worry and my moods change from excited to anxious in 2.0 seconds. I am constantly trying to find the balance between my duties as a studious law and science student, part time worker, house maintainer, cook, gardener, girlfriend, good friend, daughter and grand daughter. And on top of all of that for some crazy reason a few months ago I started a food blog... which to say the least I have become addicted to.
Normally I balance all my life duties well, but come exam time the studious side overtakes, the leisure side resists and stress quickly onsets.
Living with my boyfriend I feel bad he can't escape me at such times where logic seems incapable of reaching me, and I convince myself its all to much and I should simply run away and join the circus or move to Romania and become a gypsy. Yes I can be a tad dramatic.
As a silent gesture of my apology to him for having to put up with me, Ive been making sure meal times are extra special and to his taste. He is a passionate meat eater and lover of pumpkin pie. I decided to use the earthy spices of cinnamon and cloves and combine them with a hearty beef dish.
My cut of choice- beef cheeks. A cheap cut despite their growing popularity, which when slow cooked will become so tender, each bite melts in your mouth. Naturally William loved this dish, commenting on how flavorful and rich the sauce was and how soft the beef had become. It's currently Autumn in Australia so this dish not only warmed his heart but our bellies also. This dish is comfort food personified, which although tastes rich and moreish, did not leave either of us feeling weighed down.
Beef Cheeks Braised in Spiced Red Wine
For the marinade
1-1.2 kg Beef Cheeks (around 3 Ibs)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
750ml dry red wine
4 bay leafs
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 cinnamon quills
For the casserole
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups beef stock
2 eschallot onions, finely diced
100g button mushrooms, sliced
100g Swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1. Combine the beef cheeks, garlic, thyme, wine, bay leafs, ground cloves and cinnamon quills in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate over night- at least 12 hours.
2. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius (300F)
3. When ready to cook, remove the beef cheeks to a plate and pat dry with paper towel. Leave the marinade in the bowl and put aside. Heat the olive oil in a large casserole dish. Season the beef and add them to the casserole dish, browning the cheeks on all sides.
4. Now return the marinade to the beef by pouring it into the casserole dish. Add the stock and bring the mixture to the boil. Once at the boil, return the lid to the pot and place in the oven. Cook the beef cheeks in the oven for 4 hours, checking and turning the beef cheeks every hour or so.
5. After 3 hours has passed add the chopped vegetables to the casserole dish, cover and return to the oven to cook along side the beef for the final hour.
6. After 4 hours has passed, remove the dish from the oven and place on the stove top. Remove the beef a plate using a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate. Remove the cinnamon quills and bay leaves and discard. Now bring the remaining stock mixture to the boil (you could remove the veggies too but I found they were fine keeping them in there). Boil the sauce until reduced by about one third. Return the beef to the pan and gently simmer for a further 5-10 minutes, until the beef is hot and extremely tender.
This dish is great served with green beans if you wanted some green veggies in there :)