Saturday, 16 January 2010

The cheek of it

I have had beef cheeks once before; it came served with a spoon. It was in a restaurant in Argentina, called La Vineria de Gualterio Bolivar that gave a healthy nod to the movement to molecular gastronomy. Molecular gastronomy is often associated with Ferran AdriĆ  and the Greatest Restaurant in the World (TM), El Bulli, and Heston Blumenthal at the Fat Duck, known as the Greatest Restaurant in the World (TM). Neither chef, however, would describe what they do as pure molecular gastronomy, however, they do use some of the scientific and chemical principals.

How does this relate to beef cheeks? Well it is a tough piece of meat, and one of the most common applications behind molecular gastronomy is, as was once explained to me by a chef so desperate for a Michelin star I though he was going to cry under the stress (they were being released the next day), that meat, that is vacuum packed and cooked slowly, alters in molecular structure therefore making it incredibly tender. Cooking meat does this, of course. However, some cuts lend themselves to this, as do steaks. Briefly, meat packed in plastic bags, vacuumed and put into thermostated water baths. Not got one, well the Khymos blog suggests doing it yourself, by putting a steak into a plastic ziplock bag, and the in a bath for half an hour. And then flash fry it. The perfect steak.

OK, as we are being all experimental and scientific, my experiment with beef cheeks will not involve thousand pound equipment, but good on marinating and then very slow cooking.

The steps will be included in the next entry, but as I'm about to embark on it, I thought I'd share a few thoughts...

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