Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Recipe - Braised Beef Cheek, Malted Onions & Pearl Barley Risotto

I was recently asked by food and drink community website, Citylicious, if I wanted to get involved in a recipe challenge using Tennent's Beer Aged with Whisky Oak. I had my first taste of Tennent's whisky beer when I had a tour of the famous Wellpark Brewery, the beer was rich with vanilla notes and very easy to drink, and I jumped at the chance of using the beer as an ingredient.

Citylicious have teamed up with bloggers from across the country who will use the Tennent's whisky beer and meat ingredients chosen by top chefs from across the country. As I was representing Glasgow and the West, I was instructed that Chef Jacqueline O'Donnell (chef patron of Glasgow institution, The Sisters) had decided that the meat that I would be using alongside the beer would be beef cheeks. Knowing that I would be preparing something that would require a long slow cook, I set about trying to find a recipe that would do the whisky beer some justice.
At this point I should point out that if you're going to be using beef cheek as a key ingredient, it might be useful to talk to your local butcher with a few days notice. I struggled to get all the cheek that I needed for the recipe so decided to substitute some beef shin into the dish, hoping that the shin would do the same job as the require cheek.
A lot of the recipes that I found were stew type dishes and as I planned on serving this meal to my my father-in-law (who has a terrible opinion of stew), I kept on looking until I found a Cheek & Ale dish from James Martin that is served with pearl barley risotto and malted onions.
(For the beef)
  • 500g beef cheek, sinew removed
  • 500ml Tennent's Beer Aged with Whisky Oak
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped roughly
  • 450ml beef stock
(For the risotto)
  • 180g pearl barley
  • 700ml chicken stock
  • 40g Grana Padano or similar hard cheese
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 150ml double cream
  • 1 clove garlic
(For the onions)
  • 3 medium sized onions in skin
  • 500ml Tennent's Beer Aged with Whisky Oak
  1. Place the beef cheeks into a bowl before adding the bay leaves, garlic and time then cover with the whisky beer. Cover with cling film then place in the oven for a minimum of six hours or overnight if possible.
  2. Preheat your oven to gas mark 1, 135 Celsius. Remove the cheeks from the marinade then transfer the marinade to a ovenproof dish. Heat the dish on the job until the marinade is boiling then add the beef stock. Meanwhile, pan fry the cheeks in a little olive oil until they caramelise slightly before putting back into the marinade/stock mixture. Cover with a tight fitting lid then place in the oven to slow cook for 4-5 hours.
  3. To prepare the onions, place them in a saucepan then cover with the whisky beer. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer, cooking through for 20-25 minutes. Once cooked, remove from the liquid and set aside to cool. Once cool enough to handle, remove the skin and outer layer then cut into six equal sized segments. Set aside until needed.
  4. About thirty minutes before you're ready to serve up, add the chicken stock to the pearl barley and boil for 15-20 minutes until the barley is cooked through. Drain the stock off and set aside. Add the garlic to the double cream and bring to the boil for 3 minutes before blitzing with a hand blender. Add the garlic cream to the cooked barley then add a squeeze of lemon juice and the grated Grana Padano. Stir everything together then set aside, keeping warm.
  5. Remove the cooked cheeks from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Transfer the cooking liquor to a boiling rapidly, reducing down to a thick gravy. Cut the beef cheeks into thick slices and get ready to serve.
  6. Heat some butter on a pan then add the cooked onion segments, firing until they colour on the edges.

Serving up is easy. Add a couple of scoops of the creamy barley risotto into a bowl before topping with some of the sliced beef cheeks and a few spoonfuls of the beef & whisky beer gravy then finish by placing a few segments of the malted onions around the side.
The end result was fantastic. The beef cheeks and shin were falling apart after the long slow cook. The Tennent's whisky beer has notes of sweet vanilla from the oak chips used in the fermentation process and although the vanilla could still be detected in the tender meat, it wasn't overpowering. The pearl barley risotto was rich and creamy with the Grana Padano adding saltiness whilst the creamy garlic sauce and malted onions acted as the perfect foil to the rich gravy.
We all loved this dish, in fact, my father-in-law was actually finished his Sunday dinner before myself and Nicola - that never happens!
I would like to thank Citylicious and Tennent's for asking me to get involved as without this recipe challenge, I would never had thought of making something like this delicious braised beef cheek recipe. There was a fair amount of effort involved but it was definitely worth it and I know that I'll be making this beef cheek dish again.

Why not give this recipe a go and let me know how you get on?


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