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Beef Cheek Pie


This is a recipe recommended by a customer, Jessica Angel, and draws upon a Maggie Beer classic, but with my own twist... !!! I made it for a big family lunch hoping to have leftovers for lunches during the week, but the boys were ploughing in for second and third helpings, as it was absolutely delicious...and also very easy to make. So give it a go...you can prepare the stew side of it a day or so in advance and just do the pie bit before serving. Anyway, here goes:-  PREP TIME 30 MINUTES, COOK TIME 4 to 5 HOURS.
INGREDIENTS (for 6 to 8 people):-  1.5kg trimmed Beef Cheeks, 2 bulbs fennel chopped into dice, 2 chopped carrots, 4 cloves of chopped garlic, 1 can of stuffed or olives, 2 star anise, 3 bay leaves, 1 sprig of fresh Thyme (or dried), some beef stock (say 500ml), 600ml of a shiraz or full bodied wine, salt and pepper to suit.  About 500g of short crust pastry (bought or homemade), egg wash. If you have it, a glass of Noilly Pratt (Vermouth), or a good shot of Pernod/Ricard...any aniseed based liquor.
For the pastry top:-250g plain flour, 125g unsalted or salted butter, 1 egg and 1 to 2 tbsp of water.

1/ Ask your butcher to chop them into two inch dice(hard to do at home). Dust them off in flour and salt and brown for a few minutes in a hot pan with a good slosh of very hot oil in it.
2/Place the beef cheeks in your crockpot or a deep steel cooking pot, and then soften the fennel, garlic and carrots in the pan with a little more oil, cooking until soft. Remove and place in the crockpot with the cheeks, mix together.
3/Add the wine to the pan and bring to the boil and then reduce by a third, then add the stock, bay leaves, thyme and star anise, salt and pepper. Warm up and check for seasoning. Add to the pot, making sure that the meat is covered with liquid, but not swimming in it.
4/ Put the lid on the pot and cook in a low 140degC oven for at least four hours or until the meat is falling apart.
5/If there is too much liquid then remove some and reduce it until you are happy with the volume.

In a blender, place the flour and the butter and mix until you have a nice crumbly mixture. Then add in the water, egg and salt and blend again until the mixture forms a ball. Remove from the blender, kneading for a few minutes, then shape into a ball, wrap it in Gladwrap and pop into the fridge for at least thirty minutes.
When ready to make the pie, remove the gladwrap, dust a worktop with flour and roll into a shape that easily covers the pie dish, maintaining a thickness of at least 1cm.

Grease the sides of your pie dish, and place an egg cup in the middle so that the pie pastry will stay clear of the filling. Empty the olives into the beef cheek mix and mix around, then pour in the beef cheeks and veggies, the whole lot, into the pie dish and arrange so that it is even. Place the pastry over the top of the pie filling, brush it with the beaten egg and cook in a hot 180degC oven for at least thirty minutes, or until the pastry is nice and brown. When brown, remove from oven, let sit for a few minutes and serve while still piping hot.

TO SERVE;  . You can always do mashed potatoes to accompany this pie, which is about all you need.   SERVE WITH:  A deep complex red....beefcheekpie 2