2 July 2012: Slow things down

I am loving the fact that at this time of year I save money on my trips to the butcher. Which is probably lucky as that money saved is going on our power bill right now with heating and oven times! The money saving comes from the fact that those ugly cheap cuts are simply the best, needing only time and some simple ingredients to be transformed into something delicious, melting and rich. Some of my favourites are shoulders - lamb and pork - fattier than the legs they roast up beautifully in a slow oven; beef ribs - braised on the bone, beef ribs are meaty and full of flavour; pork ribs are also great but be prepared for a finger dinner - bones are just designed to be picked up!; osso bucco - the classic; and beef cheeks - supremely delicious as long as you give them time. And time really is the only secret - sometimes they will just take longer depending on the breed of animal as well as the size for instance of the beef cheeks. So don't think you will have dinner ready in an hour or even three, plan it out in the morning, or even better the day before, select some other simple ingredients, turn the oven on and sit back, preferably with a good glass or two - or get on the trainer , go for a run, whatever. For many these types of meals might be best suited to the weekends when time is available - you don't need to be there to watch or fuss over your food but most people don't feel comfortable leaving the oven on all day if not at home. If you have an electric sow cooker though (I don't) you can also use this, and program it to start throughout the day. You dont really need a recipe I think for these types of meals but if you are cooking it for the first time here is a basic one to try out. As you can see I havent really included amounts - mainly becuase I never measure anything, but also becuase I just dont think you need them.

Braised Beef cheeks:

Beef cheeks

Onion, chopped

Celery, chopped

Carrot, chopped

Chicken stock (preferably one you have made)

Tomato passata or fresh ripe tomatoes, chopped

Red wine

Sea salt and pepper

Olive oil

Parsley and lemon zest to serve

Brown the beef cheeks in an oven proof casserole dish (like a le Creuset pot). Remove from pan and set aside. Add olive oil to the same pan, then add onion, carrot and celery and cook over a medium heat for several minutes until starting to soften. Add wine and deglaze pan and cook for a couple of minutes. Return beef cheeks to the pan, add the stock and tomato and season to taste. There should be just enough liquid to cover the beef cheeks. Cover the pot and place in a preheated slow oven, around 150 degrees C. Leave to cook for as long as you like - at least 4 or 5 hours but 7 or 8 is even better.

Serve with some cauliflower puree and top with chopped parsley and lemon zest.


Slow roasted pork ribs with a pumpkin and spinach salad