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Braised beef cheeks with pear and bitter chocolate sauce

I know you’re probably thinking, what the hell? It does sound bizarre! But Tim saw Michel Roux Jr. cooking this up on a TV programme the other day and really fancied giving it a go. I’m all for unusual food and trying out new things, so we bought all the ingredients and cooked it over the Easter weekend!

Ingredients

For the white bean purée
85g/3oz dried white beans
2 bay leaves
sprig of rosemary
sea salt
small knob of butter
200ml/7fl oz double cream, heated to a boil

For the beef cheeks
2 pears
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 beef cheeks, trimmed and cut into 4 equal-sized pieces
sea salt
oil, for frying
1 onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, sliced
125ml/4fl oz port
1 orange, juice and zest
1 litre/2 pints beef stock
1 tbsp cracked black pepper
16 button onions, peeled
50g/1¾oz butter
60g/2¼oz chocolate, 70% cocoa solids, broken into squares

Method

  1. For the purée, soak the beans in water overnight then drain well. Place the beans in a pan of fresh water and bring to the boil. Add the bay leaves and rosemary sprig, cover with greaseproof paper and simmer until cooked.
  2. Remove the bay leaves and rosemary and drain the beans over a large bowl to reserve the cooking liquid. Place the beans in a blender, season with a little salt and add the butter and cream. Blend until you have a silky smooth purée, adding a little of the cooking water if necessary, and set aside.
  3. Peel and core the pears, cut into 1cm/½in cubes and cover with the lemon juice and a little water until needed. Reserve the pear skin.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Season the beef cheeks with salt and fry in a little oil in a large ovenproof pan until browned on all sides. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside. Fry the onion and garlic in the same pan until brown then return the meat to the pan and deglaze with the port and orange juice. Lower the heat and reduce the liquid until it is syrupy then add the stock, pepper, orange zest and pear skin. Cover with greaseproof paper and place in the oven for about three hours or until the meat is very tender.
  5. Cook the onions with a knob of butter and a little water. In another pan, fry the pear cubes in a knob of butter.
  6. When the beef is cooked, remove from the pan. Place a sieve over a bowl and strain the cooing liquid. Pour the liquid into a clean pan and reduce to a syrupy consistency then whisk in the remaining butter and the chocolate.
  7. To serve, dress the plate with a spoonful of the bean purée, the cooked pears and button onions. Lay a piece of beef cheek on each plate and spoon over the sauce.

 

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I really did thoroughly enjoy it. It was my first time trying beef cheeks and they were beautiful, they just melted in your mouth. We bought these from our new local butchers in Tooting, Chadwicks.

You need to be careful not to put too much chocolate into the sauce – we were quite cautious and actually added less than recommended above, and that was chocolatey enough for us!

It’s an unusual one, but definitely worth a shot!

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