This plate is less of a restaurant dish and more of a home cooked dish. It’s very simple, traditional Irish home cooking. Forget bacon and cabbage and lots of other traditional dishes that are just pretty awful. In my opinion Irish cooking can and should be much better than this and there is no need for us to continue down this path and continuing to have an embarrassing cuisine. Why not recreate our own cuisine, revolving around the fantastic produce that we have, cooked simply but deliciously, not boiled to an unrecognisable state. This dish is kind of a take on a traditional Irish stew but uses beef cheeks, a great cut of beef. One of my main reasons for cooking this dish is that considering spring* is only two days away I would end the winter with a gorgeous stew.
Beef Cheeks: Marinate the beef cheeks in red wine and add some carrot, onion, celery, 2 – 4 star aniseeds, bay leaves, salt and black peppercorns for anywhere between 12 – 48 hours. Drain and thoroughly dry the beef cheeks and quickly brown all over in a searing hot frying pan. Place the cheeks in a casserole dish. Deglaze the frying pan with a drop of red wine the beef was marinated in and add the rest of the red wine and the vegetables and flavourings into the casserole dish into the casserole dish. Add 3/4 a can of Guinness into the casserole dish and top up with beef stock until only some of the cheeks are visible above the liquid. Place into a 150 °C oven and cook for 4 hours. Leave to cool in the liquid until it cools down a bit and then remove. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve and reduce the sauce until thickened*. Finish the sauce with some finely chopped carrot and cook until just tender. Add some frozen peas and cook for a few minutes.
*If your sauce gets too salty before it begins to thicken, which is likely to happen if you use stock cubes, you can thicken it with an alternative method such as cornflour or beurre manié.
Mash: Mash some cooked potatoes with plenty of butter* and season with salt. Pass through a sieve to get rid of all lumps.
* For the nicest mash, use 200 g butter for every 1 kg of spuds.
Spinach: Wilt some spinach in a pan with butter until it just collapses but do not cook any further.
To Serve: Place a big scoop of mash in the middle of the plate and top with some spinach. Add half a beef cheek on the top of the spinach and drizzle the sauce and vegetables around and over the beef.
Good: Good, simple comfort food. As much as I am a fan of foams, purees, jelly’s and the likes, you just can’t beat lovingly cooked good food.
Bad: Smaller portion size of beef cheeks is a good idea because it is very gelatinous in texture and so too big a portion is too filling and even sickly.