And so here it is, the last week of work ahead of Christmas. Helen is busy away in the kitchen making Florentines (more on that tomorrow…) and so I thought I’d post this dish I made a little earlier in the week.
The idea for this came from a comment I made a few weeks back with a fellow blogger and was itself inspired by a dish I once had. A couple of years ago, on a trip to Vegas, we threw caution, and a sizeable wad of cash to the wind and tried Joel Robuchon’s restaurant ‘Robuchon’ in the MGM. It was the one and (most likely) only time I’ve tried a 3 Michelin starred restaurant and with it being in the same hotel as we were staying, and my birthday, couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Luckily, I did OK at Blackjack that week. Phew.
I’ll be honest, I felt a little fraudulent eating there, especially with the man himself sat at the table behind us. The service though. Wow. We were held up on arrival as our table was still occupied. It wasn’t a problem, we were just enjoying ‘being there’ and having a drink in the lounge area, but they comped us his signature dish by means of an apology regardless. A lobster ravioli in foie gras sauce by the way, and it was amazing.
Anyway highlight for me was a dish of far more modest means – a slow braised beef cheeks in a thai broth. The flavours were fantastic and so strong. I’m suprised it took me so long to get round to attempting to recreate it. I couldn’t get beef, so I used pork cheeks and by poaching it in a thai flavoured stock for a few hours, it becomes beautifully tender and full of flavour. I added some enoki mushrooms and red peppers at the end to make it a bit more substantial and served it up with plain Jasmine rice.
I must admit, whilst I doubt it came anywhere near the dish I had that evening, I was very pleased with the outcome and will be definitely doing it again.
Serves 2. Takes – all day if you can!
- 400g pork cheeks (about 4 large pieces)
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 inch by 1 inch piece of ginger, sliced
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 4 shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 litre chicken stock.
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp tamarind paste
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 pieces of lemongrass – bashed with a rolling pin
- 2 tbsp soft brown sugar (I didn’t have any palm sugar 😦 )
- two handfuls of enoki mushrooms
- 1 red pepper finely sliced
- 1 large handful of coriander finely chopped, stalks and leaves
- 3 or 4 basil leaves, shredded.
Heat the oven to 130°C (fan), gas mark 1
Take a large casserole pot and start by well browning the pork in the oil on the hob. Add the chilli and garlic for a few minutes then the stock. Deglaze the pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir well, put the lid on the pot and slow braise for 4 hours.
After that time, it should be amazingly tender and the stock reduced to concentrate the flavours. Strain the stock through a fine sieve, and again through a muslin cloth if you have one (but not essential). Return the pork to the pan with the stock, add the mushrooms and peppers and gently heat for a couple of minutes so as not to overcook the vegetables. Just before you serve it, stir in the coriander.