It’s a massive weekend for rugby action - that calls for some ’man food’! Pat Whelan, butcher and author of ’The Irish Beef Book’, has a great recipe for Barbacoa Beef Cheeks.
Beef cheeks are one of our favourite cuts. The meat is intense, full of robust flavour and has a richness that is not at all cloying. Don’t be put off by what might seem like a bizarre combination of ingredients; this recipe is a cinch, and it takes very little time to prepare. The recipe serves four, but our recommendation is that you make a larger batch and invite over your friends to watch a match, have a few drinks and shoot the breeze. An Irish artisan cider such as Stonewell would go nicely.
1 kg beef cheeks, trimmed
1 ancho chilli
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or Irish
2 tablespoons Highbank apple syrup or
maple syrup or honey
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 handful fresh coriander, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
250 ml chicken stock
2 avocados, peeled and sliced (or guacamole)
4 wraps or tortillas
roasted tomato salsa
grated cheese — a strongly flavoured
Cheddar type such as Hegarty’s from Whitechurch, Co. Cork
Remove the stem and seeds from the ancho chilli, chop it roughly and put it in a little warm water for a few minutes to rehydrate.
Blend the chilli (and its water), garlic, peanut butter, espresso powder, 2 tablespoons of the oil, syrup, cumin, paprika, coriander and salt into a paste. Marinate the beef cheeks in the paste for a few hours, preferably overnight, in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 140° C/fan 120° C/gas mark 1½.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a flameproof casserole dish and brown the cheeks on both sides. Don’t move the cheeks around too much when you’re browning them — the less they move, the more colour and flavour they’ll pick up. Pour the rest of the marinade into the pan with the stock, then squeeze in the juice of 3 limes.
Put the lid on and place in the oven for about 3½ hours, turning the cheeks once or twice while they cook. If the liquid dries up, add a little more stock. By now the cheeks should be very tender. Pull them apart with two forks and mix with the juices in the pan. Add a squeeze of lime to taste, and a touch more syrup if you like.
Serve the barbacoa in a wrap or corn tortilla with guacamole or slices of avocado, roasted tomato salsa, sour cream, a sprinkling of fresh coriander and grated cheese.
The Irish Beef Book by Pat Whelan and Katy McGuinness is now available nationwide.