Beef cheek is beautifully tender and makes for a wonderful ragu. And how better to enjoy a rich, slow-cooked ragu than encased in flaky pastry?
- olive oil, for pan-frying
- 2 beef cheeks, trimmed
- plain flour, for dusting
- 2 carrots, roughly chopped
- 2 onions, roughly chopped
- 2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
- 1 bulb garlic, halved horizontally
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ bunch thyme
- ½ bunch marjoram
- 330 ml stout or dark ale
- 500 ml (2 cups) chicken stock
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 100 g frozen peas, defrosted
- 1 small bunch cavolo nero (Tuscan Kale), stalks removed and torn
- 1 sheet good quality puff pastry
- 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chilling time: 3 hours
- Preheat the oven to 140°C.
- Heat a good drizzle of oil in a heavy–based oven-proof saucepan until hot. Dust the beef cheeks in flour, then cook until browned on all sides. Add the chopped vegetables, garlic and herbs and cook for 2–3 minutes. Add the beer and bring to the boil. Add the chicken stock, mustard and Worcestershire sauce, bring to a simmer, then cover and bake for 2½-3 hours or until very tender.
- Remove from the oven, strain the meat and vegetables out and reserve. Place the pot with the liquid on the stove and simmer until reduced by half. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Let the beef, vegetables and reduced cooking liquid cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until cold. You can prepare the filling 1-2 days ahead.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Tear the cooled beef cheeks into bite–sized pieces. Place the beef cheek and veggies in the base of a large pie dish. Tear the kale over the top, then scatter over the peas. Pour over enough of the cooled reduced cooking liquid to just cover the inside rim of the pie dish.
- Brush the rim of the pie dish with the beaten egg yolk, then lay the sheet of puff pastry over the meat and vegetables and press down to seal the edges well. Brush the top with egg yolk, then season with salt and pepper. Bake for 35–40 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and golden.
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