"What part of the cow are the cheeks?" Is a question I have come across more than once. It’s a fair question, considering pork butt is a shoulder cut and often confused for another part of the pig?!
I am fortunate enough to be able to raise my own beef on my lovely little farm North of Waikato. When they come up to me and put their massive faces over the fence I reach over to each side under their soulful eyes and scratch their lovely cheeks.
This cut of meat is often discarded, but is finding its way onto fine dining menus all over the country.My beef comes from a reliable source (myself) and I know they are raised with care, respect, good feed, drenched when they should be and fed the occasional treat of apples. Although I don't 'process' it myself (a lovely man comes to do it for me) it enables me to get the best cuts of meat. I love the idea of nose to tail cooking, using every part of the cow, allowing it to fulfil its whole destiny. For these lovely beef cheeks I will share a Thai inspired red curry recipe.
3-4 Whole Beef cheeks, trim the sinew and fat away
Blend the following to a fragrant curry paste
5 Red chillies
5 cm of ginger
3 lemon grass stems (white part only)
2 small red onions
3 teaspoons of tamarind paste *
1 lemon grass stem whole
3 tablespoons of coconut oil
3 Cardamom pods
3 Star anise
6 Kaffir lime leaves
1 Cinnamon stick
1 400 mil can of coconut cream
In a pan, on high heat (8 or 9 on an induction hob) use a table spoon of the coconut oil to brown the beef cheeks then put them on a plate. Using the same pan turn your induction hob down to 6, add the remaining oil to gently fry the curry paste for two minutes. Add the coconut cream and the rest of the ingredients, I sometimes add half a can of water to reduce the richness of the coconut cream. Add the browned beef cheeks back to the pan and cover. Cook for 2 hours or until the cheeks become tender.
Serve with rice and steamed vegetables and enjoy!
*Tamarind paste can be found in most Asian grocers and adds a sweet and sharp sour-like taste, if you cannot find tamarind paste finely dice a couple of dates and soak them in a little lemon juice.