This month’s edition of a Meal to Share is late. My fault as I totally forgot all about it while travelling. I did have grand plans of getting produce in Vancouver and cooking it in our service apartment. That was the plan and then it just slipped my mind and to be honest, there was no time for cooking. There was too many nice cafes and restaurants around Vancouver that needed my undivided attention. So thank you Celeste and Agnes for being understanding and hopefully not too pissed off with me. Sorry ladies.
Without further a due, let me introduce our pub menu.
Celeste made a delicious entree of Salt and Pepper Calamari Rings.
I was in charge of the mains and made a stout braised ox cheeks with cheese and mushroom dumplings.
And lovely Agnes made a sumptuous looking sticky date pudding. What a sweet ending to a lovely pub inspired meal.
Pub food to me is usually big portion of comfort goodness. No scrawny salads or bite size mains. They must be big. They must scream heartiness. I have always wanted to use stout as an ingredient. And from my previous recipes, I have always been a fan of cheeks. Cheeks are quite fatty and that means flavour to me. It requires slow cooking method like braising to break down the toughness to melting and super tender morsels of meat. On top of this goodness, I have added cheese and mushroom dumplings because I can and want to. All the ingredients spell winter comfort and heartiness. Don’t you think?
Don’t be grossed out by these pieces of cheeks. Trim only some but not all of the fats and discard the grey gristle. Keep the connecting tissues as it will break out in the soup and make it more velvety.
I received many suggestions of stout via twitter (thanks @RedHillBrewery) but due to the lack of time, I ended up at Dan Murphy and got myself a bottle of chocolatey stout by Cascade. Mister and I tried this previously when we were in Tasmania when we tried the Cascade medley of beers at the brewery. The stout has a really distinctive chocolate flavour that I love and want in my dish. I was previously told that this was not sold in Melbourne and so was surprise to find it at Dan Murphy. I guess they do stock Cascade stout now. Will stout ever be the new beer?
Why cheese and mushroom dumplings? Dumplings by itself is usually really bland and I wanted to add more flavour and richness to the dish. Plus, I happen to acquire beautiful brown button mushrooms at the farmers market.
Overall, this dish does require a fair bit of time. But it so worth it. The broth was rich and deep in meaty juices. The cheesy dumplings puffed up and was soaking up with beefy and mushroom flavours gleefully. I am extremely happy with this dish. It is everything that I wanted in a hearty pub meal. And the best drink to go with this is, of course, Stout. Or a very dark beer.
Dear friends, what is your definition of pub food?
Stout braised ox cheeks
- 750g of trimmed ox cheeks
- 200g of brown button mushrooms
- 3 stalks of baby leeks
- 2 large carrots, diced
- 4 stalks of celery, diced
- 3 bay leaves
- 11/2tbsp dried thyme
- 1tbsp of plain flour
- 20g of tomato puree (1 saschet)
- 1tbsp of brown sugar
- 1tbsp of miso (for seasoning)
- 300ml of Stout (recommended one that has a chocolate tone)
- 500ml of beef stock
- Salt and black pepper
Cheese and mushroom dumplings
- 125g of self-raising flour
- 30g of cold butter, cubed
- 50g of grated Parmesan cheese
- 5 brown button mushrooms, finely diced
- A handful of parsley, finely chopped
- 5tbsp of water
- Salt and pepper
- Trim the ox cheeks and then dice it into bite size pieces. Coat with plain flour, salt and pepper. Heat up some oil in a heavy pot and brown the ox cheeks. Set aside
- Put more oil in the same pot and turn down the heat. Add the carrot, leeks and celery and cook till soft. Add the bay leaves and thyme. Combine for a couple of minutes. Add the tomato puree and brown sugar. Turn the heat up, stir and allow the flavours to combine for a few minutes
- Pour the Stout into the pot and allow it to simmer down to about half. And then add the browned meats and coat with the Stout mixture. Add the stock in and make sure it covers the meat and the vegetables. Bring the stock to boil and then turn down heat. Crack some pepper. Allow the pot to simmer for the next 3 hours or until the meat is melting tender.
- In the meantime, make the dumplings. Cube the cold butter. Add into the self-raising flour and work with the butter till the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Add the grated cheese, diced mushrooms and chopped parsley into the flour mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Make a well in the center. Add the water into the well and then slowly incorporate the flour and water together. Make into a dough on the work bench. Roll into 2 sausages and wrap in cling wrap. Place in the fridge to chill
- Stir the pot occasionally. After 3 hours, check on the ox cheek stew for seasoning. At this point, you can add the miso if required. I used miso to replace salt.
- When the stew is ready, cut the dumplings into 10 – 12 pieces and roll them. Add them into the pot but space them out as they do expand when cooking. It takes between 20 – 30minutes to cook and for the flavours to infused together
- When ready, scoop into a bowl, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve hot