Cheeky Monkey (but not monkey, thank God)
It’s been so long since I’ve posted that initially I forgot what I was supposed to post about. I cooked something a while ago, and knew I had transferred the photos, but then I went on vacation (Mickey/Minnieville), came back, finally managed to stay awake past nine, opened my photos, and saw…
And then my brain kicked in. Cheeks. And not the ass kind, the face kind. Although I’m sure ass cheeks are quite tasty but named something slightly less descriptive.
I had decided to grab the cheeks (ha!) when I saw them not just because they were strange and therefore blogarific, but also because my husband had daringly ordered them at a restaurant recently and he found them fatty. I was convinced the chef hadn’t known how to prepare them properly and that I would be able to outdo him. Game on.
I flipped through recipes and learned that most people seemed to braise their cheeks, or “fry lightly and then stew it slowly with the lid on.” In red wine. I also learned from my Twitter friend @madball911 (yes, you can laugh at my using the word “friend” as related to Twitter, as my husband does) that I’d have to make sure to trim off a lot of fat to reduce the jellylike consistency in the result. So I trimmed and snipped fatty bits for ages,
Braised Beef Cheeks
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 (12-oz) beef cheeks, trimmed of excess fat
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1/2 celery rib, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups red wine (preferably a dry Lambrusco or Chianti)
1 (28- to 32-oz) can whole tomatoes including juice, chopped (3 cups)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
Then I pulled the meat into chunks and scraped off anything that looked gelatinous. I was on ultra-hypersensitive slime alert, determined to win a chef challenge against a masterchef who didn’t know I existed … and who wasn’t anything close to a masterchef. But I was going to win, GOD AS MY WITNESS. I didn’t tell Phil he was eating cheeks again, because he would have complained if he knew he was trying them for a second time.
And it worked!
Results: Cheeks may be trendy (the restaurant where we had them was on Ossington, in the coolio district) but chewing on a cheek just ain’t hip. The fatty jelly is inescapable. I snipped before, I scraped after, and still, I couldn’t finish my piece of meat. I’m starting to get really pessimistic about non-traditional cuts of meat. Maybe it’s time to move on to organs. Rating: 3 Gags. I won the battle against the chef, but the cheeks beat me by more than a pinch. Gross.