You know autumn has arrived when the Instant Pot gets dusted off and works its magic on these beef cheeks. I love my Instant Pot but rarely use it on the slow cooker setting. I intend to right that wrong this winter so expect a flurry of recipes extolling the virtues of slow-cooked food. If you have an Aga you could cook the beef overnight in the simmering oven. Similarly a conventional oven would cook the cheeks for about 5 hours at 140˚c. The joy of the electric slow-cooker (whichever model you have) is that you can throw everything into the pot, get your eight hours beauty sleep (or put in a day’s work depending on when you start the timer) and wake up in the knowledge that lunch-or supper -is pretty much sorted. After ten hours the plums melt away creating a subtle fruity sauce which compliments and offsets the richness of the beef cheeks.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 980g beef cheeks (cut into 6 x 190g pieces)
- 6 banana shallots, peeled and halved lengthways
- 6 large ripe plums, stoned and quartered
- 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 1 thumb-sized piece of root ginger, peeled and very finely chopped
- 600ml beef stock
- 100ml Shaoxing wine (rice wine) or dry sherry
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 star anise
- 3 tablespoons cornflour
- Heat one tablespoon of the oil and brown the beef cheeks in batches for 3-4 minutes each side. Transfer to the slow cooker pot (or ovenproof casserole).
- Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil and brown the shallots for about 8-10 minutes. Put them with the beef cheeks and add all the remaining ingredients except the cornflour. Season with a little salt and ground black pepper and secure the lid. Slow cook on the low setting for 10 hours.
- At the end of the cooking time the beef should be meltingly tender. Carefully pour the contents of the pot through a colander, reserving the sauce. Place the beef cheeks and shallots in a shallow serving dish, cover with foil and keep warm in a low oven, about fan oven 120˚c, mark 1. Pour the sauce into a saucepan and skim off any fat and scum. Stir over a moderate heat until just below boiling point. Mix the cornflour with 3 tablespoons of water and stir into the hot sauce. Stir until thick and glossy. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary.
- To serve, pour the sauce over the beef and serve with mashed potatoes and roasted broccoli or Brussels sprouts.