Serves: 4 - Time:
When the clocks go back and the curtains are drawn by four o’clock it is time for a slow braise and a dish of deep, comforting umami flavours. I buy fermented black beans online –they are a very useful ingredient to have and will keep for ages in the fridge. Use the beans to make your own black bean sauce for a stir-fry- you’ll never buy a ready made bottle again. If you can’t get hold of beef cheeks you could use shin but check the meat after two hours-you should be able to cut it with a spoon. Browning meat in large pieces and then cutting it into the desired size of chunk makes life much simpler.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 kg beef cheeks
- 340g shallots, peeled
- 375g carrots, peeled and cut into 2cm pieces
- 3 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
- 900ml beef stock
- 100ml Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
- 1 tablespoon white miso paste
- 3 tablespoons fermented black beans
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- ½ tablespoon runny honey
- 1 tablespoon cornflour
- Chopped parsley to garnish
- Heat the oven to fan 150° mark 2. Heat the oil in a wide flameproof casserole dish. Add three or four pieces of beef and brown over a high heat for 2-3 minutes. Turn over and brown for a further 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and continue to brown all the meat. Cut the cheeks into large 4-5 cm chunks. Set aside while you brown the vegetables.
- Add the whole shallots and carrots to the casserole and brown for about 5 minutes, turning them over once or twice. You should not need any more oil but add a drop more to the casserole if the vegetables look very dry. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Return the meat to the casserole and pour in the beef stock, Shaoxing wine, miso paste, black beans, soy sauce and runny honey. Stir well and bring the liquid up to the boil. Taste and season with ground black pepper-you shouldn’t need any salt. Cover the surface of the casserole with a circle of baking parchment or greaseproof paper and cover with a lid. Cook in the oven for three hours or until the meat is so tender you can cut it with a spoon.
- Lift the meat and vegetables out of the sauce and place in a bowl. Put the dish over a low heat and bring to a simmer. Mix the cornflour with a tablespoon of cold water and stir into the sauce. Cook until thickened. Return the meat and vegetables to the sauce. Scatter over some chopped parsley and serve with mashed potatoes and roasted sweetheart cabbage.