16 Mar Slow Cooked Beef Cheek and Eggplant Casserole
Slow Cooked Beef Cheek and Eggplant Casserole
16 March 2021
PREP. TIME: 20min - Cook Time: 2 -3 hours - Serves: 8
Deliver some comfort to your table with this sublime dish that makes the very most of the last of Summer eggplants, though they are these days also grown hydroponically and generally available throughout the year.
If you cannot get beef cheeks, ask your butcher to cut stewing steak or top side into large pieces - the size of a small postcard is ideal approx 12 x 10cm.
Classically you would cook the casserole in the oven in a heavy pot or Dutch Oven at 160C.
If you cannot do this - a heavy based saucepan with a fitted lid, on top of the stove also works well.
Serve with mashed potatoes, soft polenta or simply with fresh bread and butter and a salad of bitter greens.
Extra virgin olive oil approx 350mls
2 cloves garlic
1 kg beef cheeks
1 cup white wine
1 cup tomato puree or passata
2 bay leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
4 cups water or stock
2 large eggplants
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopping board and kitchen knife
Heavy based, flame proof casserole or Dutch oven with a lid
Large heavy based shallow pan with a lid
A large plate
Medium size fry pan
Large metal or wooden spoon for stirring
Step 1 Before you Start
Pat dry and salt the meat when you bring it home from the butcher.
Store it unwrapped in the refrigerator for 2 - 48 hours.
Bring to room temperature for 1 - 2 hours before cooking.
Step 2 Prep
Preheat the oven to 160 C if using.
Peel and slice the onion
Peel and keep the garlic whole
Step 2 Soften The Onions and Garlic
Place the frypan over over moderate heat and lightly cover the base of the pan with olive oil.
Add the onion and a teaspoon of salt and stir into the oil. Continue stirring until the oil is softened.
Add the garlic - do not let either the onion or garlic to brown - reduce the heat if necessary.
Cook until the onion is transluscent - this can take up to 10 - 15 minutes so stay with it and remain patient.
Remove the onion and garlic from the pan with a slotted spoon and place in the casserole pot.
Step 3 Brown the Meat
Increase the heat under the pan - add a little more oil if necessary and add some of the beef without crowding the pan.
Lightly brown on all sides, remove from the pan and place with the onions and garlic while you finish cooking the beef.
Step 4 Add the Liquids
Deglaze the pan with the wine scraping up all of the brown residue - allow to bubble until most of the wine is evaporated - just a minute or so.
Add the tomato puree and the spices and herbs and simmer for a few minutes.
Pour the wine and tomato mixture over the meat in the casserole.
Step 5 Cook
Cover the contents of the casserole with the water or stock.
Bring gently to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
Put the lid on the casserole or pan and either bake in the oven or keep on top of the stove at a steady simmer for at least 90 minutes. It will probably still be tough to taste - depending upon the cut it may need up to a total of 2 - 3 hours.
The meat is cooked when you can pull it apart easily with a fork.
Step 6 Cook The Eggplant
Once the meat is in the oven or simmering on top of the stove - you can prepare the eggplant.
Rinse it well, dry it, cut into large cubes or slices and place in a colander or on a clean tea towel. Sprinkle with 1 - 2 desertspoons salt and rub the salt into the eggplant.
Leave in the colander for at least 20 minutes - you can leave it for a good hour or two if necessary.
Pat the egg plant dry and cook it in batches in a medium size fry pan in plenty of olive oil.
As the eggplant cooks and softens, remove it from the pan and drain on kitchen towel.
Step 7 Assembly
Once the meat is tender and you are just able to pull it apart, add the eggplant and a little more water or stock to cover if required.
Season well with salt and pepper, cover and return to the oven or stove top for another 20 - 30 minutes.
Step 5 To Serve
When serving - pull the beef cheeks apart into 6 - 8 portions.
Serve with mashed potato or soft polenta. Sautéed spinach or a salad of bitter greens make a good accompaniment.
Adapted by Elizabeth Peddey from The Mediterranean Diet, by Dr Catherine Itsiopoulous (2015).
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