Tastes of the outback, 30pp.
compiled by Tanya Buchanan
RM Williams Classic Publications, Mosman, 2006
Cooking on page 132
I feel so lucky to have this book. It’s out of print, but I got it for the bargain price of $3.50 at an op shop (opportunity or charity shop) in Sydney. It originally sold for $34.95.
It combines our Aussie obsessions with food and travel—with great pics of our stunning outback countryside, summaries of 17 outback and rural regions, and a collection of truly fabulous recipes.
Recipes come from station owners, members of the Country Women’s Association, a sheep shearer’s cook and leading chefs. The dishes use the freshest of local produce and there is an emphasis on beef and lamb dishes. In fact, the foreword to the book has been provided by the chairman of Meat and Livestock Australia.
Given the book’s leaning towards meat, I bypassed the yummy-looking pastry recipe on page 32 and moved on to 132. This recipe comes from Mildura and chef Stefano de Pieri.
Braised beef cheeks on a celeriac puree
6 beef cheeks, excessive fat removed (but not all of it)
1 generous cup, equal celery, carrots, onions, chopped coarsely
1 cup Italian peeled tomatoes, chopped with their juice
2 bay leaves
generous cup of strong red wine
2 cloves garlic
olive oil for cooking
salt and pepper to taste
3 celeriac bulbs, peeled and cut into 3cm cubes
2 large potatoes, washed, peeled and cut into 3cm cubes
1 piece pancetta
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Pre-heat oven to 180°C. In a heavy based pan, sweat celery, carrots, onion and garlic until brownish. Add the cheeks, brown on each side. Season the meat. Add bay leaves and red wine. Reduce the red wine and add puréed peeled tomatoes. Cook a little more and transfer to a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Cover with more greaseproof paper and foil. Cook for about 2 1/2 hours.
The cheeks must feel really soft, almost so that one can stick a finger through them. Remove cheeks and transfer to another baking dish. Place all the cooking juices in a jug or bowl and place in the fridge until all the fat has solidified at the top. Remove the fat, place the sauce back over the cheeks. Reheat when needed. Serve with a celeriac purée.
Sauté onions with garlic, pancetta and thyme until brown. Add celeriac and potatoes. Just cover the ingredients with stock and allow to simmer. Cook until celeriac is soft. There should be little or no liquid remaining. Remove pancetta and purée ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4
How it played out
Beef cheeks were on special the other day, so I bought a pack of two weighing about 600 grams in all. They were already well trimmed of fat, so I didn’t need to do that step.
It didn’t make sense to use a third of the other ingredients, so I made some ad hoc adjustments.
In all, I used a 1/2 cup each of onions and carrot (no celery on hand), 1 cup of tomatoes, 1 bay leaf, 1/2 cup red wine, 2 cloves garlic and about 1 tablespoon of oil. I didn’t bother refrigerating the cooking juices—hey we were hungry and in a hurry—and besides there wasn’t all that much fat anyway.
As for the celeriac purée, I bought one bulb for the exorbitant price of $5.98. Wow!
I accompanied it with 2 medium potatoes and 2 pieces of rosemary pancetta—if one piece of pancetta is good, surely two is better. And I didn’t remove the pancetta, which I had diced finely so it could just stay as part of the purée.
I’ve had beef cheeks twice before at fancy-schmancy restaurants. They were sensational and I was hoping this recipe would turn out half as nice as either of those other two.
Well, guess what? It turned out twice as nice. What a fabulous recipe. Go on, try it!
I plan on making it again later this week. It really is sensationally delicious.
P.S. I’ve told so many friends about this amazing recipe, that they’ve hounded me to post it ASAP. So here it is. Please try it and let me know what you think.
If you have enjoyed this, please take a moment to check out my travel blog.