So for the past 3 months I have been doing something pretty amazing. I did mention to my sisters that it was the best thing I had ever done and then they asked about getting married. Ooops. Getting married is first, then this. I signed up to do a Masters Series Class at Culinaeriehere in Washington, DC. I have learned soooo much! Each week we focus on a different food, focusing on technique rather than individual recipes. The class is something I look forward to every week and has really helped me grow as a home cook.
During the class, we spend the first part in a lecture. Our chef instructor shows us how to prepare the ingredient du jour and then we spend the last half actually preparing the food ourselves. The chef doesn’t use recipes, and says “Cook it until it’s done and it tastes good.” So frequently it is a large guessing game. This is making me a better cook! I know it! Luckily, some genius before us, mention to the chef, “If we don’t taste yours, how are we supposed to know what it tastes like?” In this particular class, she shared these braised veal cheeks with us, since the ingredient du jour was veal. We didn’t have the opportunity to make this, but I did taste it and I have been thinking about it every since. Here is your opportunity to try it.
Don’t be scared by the fact that these are veal cheeks. They are tender pieces of meat that will rock your socks off. If you aren’t afraid to make this, but know your dinner-eaters might be weary, tell them it is beef stew. They will never know the difference.
You will probably need to go to a butcher to get veal cheeks. If you don’t see them out in the butcher’s case, make sure you ask for them. Tom and I got about 3 pounds and it was just enough for us.
Braised Veal Cheeks Recipe
- 3 pounds veal cheeks
- vegetable oil
- salt and pepper
- large chunks of fresh ginger, about 1/4 cup
- 6 garlic cloves cut into large chunks
- 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 1/2 cup sake
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 2 cups veal or chicken stock (enough to come up 1/2 way on the solids in the pan)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Rinse veal cheeks and dry with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper.
- Heat a dutch oven over high heat. Add vegetable oil. Sear veal cheeks until browned on all sides.
- Remove veal cheeks from dutch oven and reserve pan drippings.
- Reduce heat to medium. Add garlic and ginger and stir until softened.
- Add soy sauce and sake to pot to deglaze the pan. Scrape the bottom of the pan to remove all the goodness. Cook until reduced by half, about 3-5 minutes.
- Place veal cheeks back into the pot. Add enough coconut milk and stock until it comes up halfway on the veal cheeks. If you do not have enough liquid, add more stock.
- Place in oven and cook for 3-3.5 hours.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool.
- Once veal cheeks have cooled, remove from pot and pull meat apart to remove fat and any tough connective tissue, reserving and liquid in the pot.
- Remove any fat from the remaining liquid and reduce by half over medium heat, about 5 minutes.
- In a saute pan, reheat pulled veal cheek meat. Season with reduced liquid as needed.
- Serve over rice.