I grew up in Matawhero where my Nana had a hotel and restaurant on the farm, and people came for miles for her food. I was always in the kitchen with Nana, who only cooked what she could grow and kill herself on the farm, and she had a wonderful sense of flavour, always wanting the food to taste like the best version of itself. This beef cheek recipe honours Nana’s ethos and her preserving skills. The beef looks like a steak but is fall-apart tender, with contrasting crunch from the vegetables and different pockets of flavour that all balance. Nana used to fill all sorts of fruit with her brûlée custard, she made her own marshmallows for various desserts and afternoon teas, and she made beetroot ice cream to use up the crop. I’ve combined those techniques and centred them on passionfruit, which is a magic fruit, for this gorgeous dessert.
– Kent Baddeley
Beef Cheeks with Foraged Mushrooms and Black Boy Peaches
For the beef:
- 2 beef cheeks (900g – 1kg total)
For the dehydrated accompaniments:
- 2 black boy peaches, each sliced into rounds as thinly as possible, stones discarded
- Handful of foraged or store-bought mushrooms, sliced as thinly as possible
For the rocket oil:
- 4 cups rocket leaves
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tbsp palm sugar
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp Lot 8 Yuzu Oil
For the black garlic mayonnaise:
- 1 tbsp black garlic paste or 3 whole black garlic cloves
- 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 whole egg
- 1 cup vegetable oil
For the mushrooms:
- 3 large foraged or portobello mushrooms, stalks removed, caps cut into 4 wedges
- 1 tsp flaky sea salt (preferably from the Southern Ocean)
- 1 tbsp Japanese soy sauce (not an overly salty brand)
- 1 tbsp Pedro Ximénez sherry
- 3 Japanese (long, thin, purple) eggplants, halved lengthwise
- 6 baby carrots (long and skinny), peeled and trimmed
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Flaky sea salt (preferably from the Southern Ocean)
- 3 tbsp Pedro Ximénez sherry
- Handful of fresh oregano
- 2 tbsp olive powder
- 2 tbsp porcini powder
Prepare the beef:
Put beef cheeks in a large deep pot for which you have a lid and pour in water to cover by 5cm. Tightly wrap top of pot in aluminium foil and place lid on top. Place over a medium-high heat until you hear the water come to a low boil, the reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 hours until beef is very tender.
Let cool to room temperature in the pot, then carefully transfer beef cheeks (keeping them whole) to a container. Strain remaining stock through a muslin cloth then pour onto beef and refrigerate until very cold (ideally overnight). The stock will set into a jelly during this time.
Dehydrate the accompaniments:
While the beef is cooking, preheat oven to 100°C and line 2 large trays with baking paper. Spread peach slices onto one tray and mushroom slices onto the other. Bake for around 1 hour, checking every 10 minutes, until completely dry and crisp (remove crisp pieces as they’re done). Transfer dehydrated peaches and mushrooms to two separate airtight containers to store until needed.
Prepare the rocket oil:
Put all ingredients into a 1 litre capacity jug and shred until very fine with a stick blender (or use a food processor or blender). Refrigerate until needed (bring back to room temperature before using).
Prepare the black garlic mayonnaise:
Put garlic, rice wine vinegar, sugar, salt, and egg into a small food processor and blend to a purée. With the processor still running, slowly drizzle in oil, starting drop by drop then continuing in a very thin stream, to form a thick and creamy mayonnaise. Refrigerate until needed.
Prepare the mushrooms:
Line a large tray with baking paper. Spread mushroom caps fin side up on the tray. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with soy and sherry. Let stand for around 1 hour until mushroom juices beginning pooling in the caps and on the tray.
Preheat oven to 250°C. Line one large oven tray with baking paper and another with aluminium foil.
Skim any fat from the top of the chilled stock. Carefully remove cold beef cheeks, keeping them whole (they will feel quite hard). Trim each into a uniform rectangular, only removing as little as possible while creating a block with a flat top and bottom and straight sides. Cut each block into three even steaks.
Place a non-stick pan or skillet on a high heat. Place eggplant halves in pan cut side down and cook until golden brown. Remove from the heat and arrange cut side up on the paper lined tray. Brush cut sides with oil and sprinkle with salt. Toss carrots with oil and sprinkle with salt and spread on the tray next to the eggplant.
Spread a thin layer of stock onto the foil-lined tray and drizzle with sherry. Arrange the steaks on top and tightly wrap the tray with aluminium foil.
Place all three trays (mushrooms, eggplant and carrots, beef cheek) in the oven for 12 minutes. The mushrooms will be roasted, the eggplant softened, the carrots slightly cooked but still with crunch, and the beef cheek will soak up the stock and sherry and have reheated.
To serve, divide the roasted mushrooms between six serving plates, drizzle with rocket oil, and sprinkle with oregano. Place a beef cheek steak on top and drizzle with any remaining juices from the tray. Top with an eggplant half and one carrot. Swirl black garlic mayonnaise around the plate and garnish with dehydrated mushrooms and peaches and olive and porcini powders.
- This recipe is ideal to prepare in advance: complete all of the steps up to and including the mayonnaise the day before. On the day of serving simply salt the mushrooms and assemble everything ready to reheat and plate
- Lot 8 Yuzu Oil is a blend of olive oil and New Zealand grown yuzu citrus, and is sold in various gourmet food stores in New Zealand – see the Lot 8 website for a list of stockists
- I like to use foraged mushrooms but you can use any store-bought kind. Mushrooms with black caps (such as portobello) will give you more flavour, but you can also use white button mushrooms.
- Instead of store-bought porcini powder you can dehydrate extra mushrooms and grind them into a powder to use as the garnish