Here’s what I liked about this week’s pick:
- I have never had beef cheeks
- I had to look up what beef cheeks even look like so that I could find them (though had to ask despite being about 1′ away from the packages – not impressive)
- Finding them at my favorite local Hispanic supermarket – which also lead me to pick up chiles, cilantro, limes, tomatoes… you get the idea
- Beef cheeks end up with that interesting (in a good way) texture from connective tissue being braised so that it’s a little chewy, a little gelatinous (OK, so now I’m probably on the verge of TMI ). The same reason I like using 7-bone chuck roasts. I don’t know why it works that way
- They were surprisingly tender after just 2 hours in the oven
Here’s what I did not like about this week’s pick:
- The cheeks weren’t completely trimmed, and there were not-so-nice bits I needed to trim away
- Another recipe of braised beef with carrots… and not a lot else
- Even though it’s late November, in AZ it’s still warm (my air conditioning is running as I type!). Even in the mountains it’s still nice – so another recipe that uses the oven for hours (without producing some fabulous bread or dessert!)
I’ve seen a number of recipes for beef cheeks, and a reasonably large number of “foodies” waxing rhapsodic about them. “They are so tender, so flavorful”. Um. OK. Sometimes they are correct, sometimes they just want to find an obscure ingredient to make things seem special. But still, I was intrigued about using them finally. The big problem was where to procure them. I think they are one of those food items that is either very inexpensive – or, very, very expensive. I found a company online that was willing to send me a box of Kobe beef cheeks for $236! I’m thinking… from what I know about cows, they chew. And chew. And chew – a lot. So it made no sense to me. But I also love my local ethnic markets. So I stopped on my way home from dropping one of my brothers at the airport. And yes, after looking a bit – there they were!
But I have to admit, after picking these up at the market, I had to switch things up. In retrospect, I probably would have done it a bit differently, but hey, it was fun!
I decided to do more of a mole sauce for mine. But I ended up making too much, and maybe I would have done it differently (I would more likely do a simpler red chile – or colorado sauce next time. Love mole, not quite as versatile). But, that said, it’s all a bit similar. The cheeks are trimmed, then browned.
After it’s time on its own, the daube came out of the oven smelling wonderful, with the beef perfectly cooked. I was a bit worried because I knew that this had to be a tough cut of meat, but because of its composition, I suppose, it was beautifully tender, while still holding together in nice pieces.
I served my dish with its traditional rice and tortilla accompaniments As well, I just had to make some fresh salsa since I’d picked up such great ingredients at the store.