a mortal food writing sin: no pictures

by brendan on October 10, 2006

while i am not totally new to writing on-line, writing about food on-line is still a bit new, and i keep forgetting to take pictures of everything i make, because just talking about it isn’t enough. so, my hope to post another detailed dispatch from the codcheeks test kitchen about my sunday meal is being junked due to lack of pretty pictures. of course, i’ll still tell you what i made, and forever beg your forgiveness for not taking pictures.

so what was this pictureless meal? beef cheeks braised in san marzano tomatoes with sautéed spinach and rigatoni in tomato sauce, and the general consensus was: tasty! the recipe was given to me by a friend who owns an italian restaurant in san francisco, telling me it would make any italian mother proud – it’s rustic and easy. for those of you who haven’t had beef cheeks, you are missing out – it’s a cut you usually have to special order, and you don’t commonly find it on a menu, but cooked correctly, they are amazing. this recipe was also helped by the fact that at the end of the day, the tomatoes the cheeks have been braising in, turn into the perfect sauce for the accompanying pasta – a one pot meal, perfect for a busy day. plus, on day 2, beef cheek sandwiches. . .how can you complain about that?

want to make them? here’s the recipe – as easy as they come:

1) make sure you trim all the fat off the beef cheeks (4) (get your butcher to do it if possible), then salt and pepper both sides.

2) in a braising pot, warm some olive oil over medium heat until hot, then brown both sides of the beef cheeks in batches. set aside.

3) add more olive oil to your pot and turn heat to low – add 1 diced carrot, 4 diced ribs of celery, 1 diced onion, and 4 diced cloves of garlic to pot, and cook on low, stirring, about 20-25 minutes until all the vegetables caramelize – add some chili flakes to test if you wish to add a little pop. preheat the oven to 190 degrees.

4) depending on how many beef cheeks you have, add the san marzano tomatoes – for this step, find a good italian deli which sells san marzano tomatoes in a can (if they don’t say DOP on the side, don’t buy them) – you want to have enough liquid to cover the beef cheeks by a few inches, since the sauce will reduce when cooking. in this recipe, i used two 28 ounce cans of tomatoes (with juices) where i crushed the tomatoes by hand. once you add the tomatoes, stir the pot a bit to make sure everything mixes.

5) add the beef cheeks and make sure the tomato sauce covers the cheeks by a few inches. take the pot from the stove and put into the oven uncovered for about 7 hours

6) remove the pot from the oven, and remove the cheeks from the sauce.

7) thinly slice the beef cheeks and serve with pasta using the tomato braising liquid.

so simple, so good, and next time, pictures, i promise!

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