I keep hearing about the wonders of slow cooking but up until recently I had refrained from buying a slow cooker, fearful that it would become one of those pieces of kitchen equipment that spends its lifetime in a box at the back of the cupboard. However, when I was shopping at my local Morrisons, they had a decent looking 5.5 litre capacity slow cooker on sale for £15 so I joined the slow cooking revolution.
Keen to put the cooker to use as soon as possible, I asked the Twittersphere for fail safe slow cooker recipes and it didn't take long for recipes suggestions to come back my way.
One of the recipes that I had sent to me was from Stuart Archer who you will recognise as one of the Final Five from this years Masterchef. Having enjoyed watching Stuart serve up classic dishes packed with huge flavour, I decided to follow his beef cheek recipe and serve it up for Sunday dinner.
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 4 beef cheeks
- 2 large onions
- 2 large carrots
- 2 sticks celery
- 4 porcini mushrooms
- 250 ml white wine
- 500 ml beef stock
- 2 star anise
- 2 Bay leaves
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- Worcester sauce
- Sear the cheeks in a hot pan with a splash of oil until well browned then pop in the slow cooker.
- Roughly chop the veg and cook in the meat juices on medium until lightly coloured.
- Add these and the the rest of the ingredients to the slow cooker and cook for as long as humanly possible!
- Add a tablespoon of Worcester sauce at the end of cooking
In the end, I cooked the beef cheeks for just over seven hours, occasionally turning the meat. Towards the end no of the cooking process, I had to take care as the beef cheeks were so tender that they were in danger of breaking up at the slightest touch. The kitchen was filled with the warming tones from the star anise, a spice that I actually though was a little out of place in a beef cheek dish but it was a flavour that worked incredibly well.
I served the beef on a bed of fluffy potato and celeriac mash with buttered green beans on the side. The cooking juices from the pan had reduced down to create a rich and glossy gravy. I followed Stuart's directions and added a splash of Worcester sauce just before serving which added an extract level of flavour that cut through the richness of the beef cheeks.
I'm still very new to the world of slow cooking and would love for you to send me recipes that you love at home. That said, Stuart's beef cheek dish was a winner and will definitely be something that I cook again.