Winter might be over here in Australia, but that doesn't mean slow braised dishes are still not able to be enjoyed. As a university student with days when clinic runs till 7pm, my slow cooker is one of my favourite kitchen appliances - it allows me to come home from an evening at uni to a delicious smelling apartment and a hot cooked meal. So dear readers, I would love to know, what is your favourite smell to come home to after a long day at uni or work?
Some tips for braising or slow cooking:
- try to use larger pieces of meat (this allows the juices to stay in the meat and hence make it more tender)
- always brown the meat on a hot pan prior to placing it in the slow cooker
- once the meat is tender, remove it from the slow cooker and reduce the sauce (as the slow cooker, cooks at a low temperature, very little steam is produced resulting in hardly any liquid being reduced during the cooking process)
Braised Beef Cheek with Mushrooms (Serves 4)
- 4 beef cheeks
- 2-3 tablespoons flour
- grapeseed oil (or another oil with a high smoke point)
- 3 carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 medium brown onions, peeled and chopped
- 1 fist of garlic, peeled
- 400ml red wine
- 500ml beef stock
- 3 tbsp Marsala (or sherry)
- 6 juniper berries
- 3 dried bay leaves
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- bag of button mushrooms, halved or quartered
1. Place a large saucepan on high heat with some grapeseed oil. Lightly coat the beef cheeks in the flour. Brown the beef on the saucepan for around 2 minutes on each side. Take the beef off the pan and place into slow cooker.
2. On the same pan saute the onions, carrots and garlic over medium heat for around 5-10 minutes (or until the onions have become translucent and are beginning to become golden).
3. Add the wine. Cook for 2-3minutes. Transfer it to the slow cooker.
4. Add to the slow cooker the stock, Marsala, juniper berries, bay leaves, thyme, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Cook in slow cooker for 4-6 hours on low heat.
5. After 1-2 hours of cooking, add the mushrooms.
6. After 4-6 hours have elapsed, removed the mushrooms and beef and cover with foil to keep warm. Removed the juniper berries and bay leaves and discard. Whiz up the sauce with a Bamix and transfer it to a saucepan.
7. Boil the sauce on high heat on a rolling boil until it has reduced to a thick luscious sauce. Taste and add seasoning as required. Add a small knob of butter.
8. Return the meat, mushrooms and sauce to the slow cooker and keep on warm until ready to serve. Serve with Heston Blumenthal's potato mash (recipe can be found here). Enjoy!