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Crisis in the kitchen!

Dinner recently at a delightful local Italian restaurant provided a wonderful dish of Beef-Cheeks in Red Wine - Belisimo! Now, I know how to cook and whilst not professionally trained I have a fair idea of what I’m doing in the kitchen AND a new recipe for friends coming to lunch is by no means a daunting prospect!

It's lunch on Sunday and there is only four of us. OK so I “Google” Beef Cheeks in Red Wine and sure enough an easy to follow "Stephanie Alexander" recipe pops onto my computer complete with clear instructions and a lovely picture of the final result… that will do nicely, thank you Stephanie!

The recipe's introduction simply states that “the best results are achieved if you commence the recipe on a Friday for lunch on Sunday"…perfect today is Thursday so that’s plenty of time.

Now, I must confess I didn’t even know which part of the beast the “cheeks” came from. Was it actually the cow's facial “cheeks”?... as it turns out that exactly what they are! I ponder this for a minute or two. I think of my own "cheeks" and know there must be a lot of muscle and tendons.....I worry just a little about the end result. But hey, cows don't smile, so maybe not such an issue and the local butcher reassures me that whilst they don’t sell a lot of this particular “cut” of meat, those customers that do buy them swear they are just the "ant’s pants"! So "Beef Cheeks" in red wine it is. The recipe calls for 16 of these so I figure they must be pretty small - again, probably because cows don't smile!

For the sake of the reader (I don’t want to lose you!), I will now summarise events;

Friday 12noon

Marinate the “Beef Cheeks” overnight or preferably 24 hours – so 24 hours it is!

Saturday 12noon

Strain the Beef Cheeks and dry, then seal in a heavy pan then “Flame” with brandy

Saturday 2pm

Place "Beef Cheeks" and Wine and Parsnips in heavy casserole and cook for 3 hours at 140C

Saturday 5pm

Remove from oven and let cool

Saturday 10pm

Skim fat from top and refrigerate overnight

Sunday 9am

Remove from fridge - At this point I am a little worried – the meat seems to be very “compact” and even looks “dry”! Bloody-hell, thinking I had better try this just in case they are dry, the guests are due in 3 hours!

I take one “cheek” out and slice off a small portion. It’s flavoursome but a little dry.

Crisis!! do I cross my fingers and serve the “cheeks” or whip down to the local providore and whip-up something completely different – like steak! We could have just had a BBQ

Sunday 9.30am

I opt for the later and rush out to purchase their best cut of beef because I reckon I can use the reduced sauce from the “Beef Cheeks” then at least the whole thing won’t have been a waste of three days!

Sunday 11.45am

“He” is very supportive and offers “You know the key to successful entertaining is keeping it simple” gosh I needed that!

Sunday 12noon

Guests arrive – steak and reduced sauce is served; we have a good laugh about the "Beef Cheeks" over a glass or two!

Sunday 5pm

Guests still here and Son and Daughter-in-law arrive with “Grand-dog” - “Dexter the black Labrador” “H” is very happy to see him…I digress – we all laugh again about the “Beef Cheeks”.

Sunday 5.30pm

Guests leave – had a lovely time.

Sunday 6pm

Daughter arrives home hungry from a day of riding horses – “What’s to eat”? "He" and "She" don’t want diner so I decide to get rid of the “Beef Cheeks” by serving to Son, Daughter-in-law and Daughter. I’ve had too much wine and don't particularly care if they like it or not. It’s in the fridge and besides I will feel better if it’s not thrown out!

Sunday 6.30pm

“Beef Cheeks” and the rest of the Potato Gratin are thrown onto three plates, “nuked” and served!

"He", "She" and "H" sit down to watch “Downton Abbey”!

Sunday 6.35pm

Son, Daughter-in-law and Daughter exclaim in unison “this is absolutely fantastic”! “No really this is delicious"! and they proceed to vaccum the contents of the plate!

Sunday 6.45pm

Three plates are completely empty – I swear one was “licked”!

Moral of the story....Don't know just thought it was funny!

...and remember...have a fabulous retirementLIFE....

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