Braised beef cheeks in drinkable red wine

At one time in the past I was of the opinion that the wine I used for cooking would not be the wine I would consume myself. In fact, the wine I used for cooking would be bottom shelf, cheap as, nasty assed goon*.

My opinions on more than one thing have changed in the last 20 years.

My opinion on the type of wine I should be cooking with was certainly not passed over by the opinion audit.

Now I am of the opinion that the wine you would like to cook with is also a wine that you would like to drink in your face. Maybe not necessarily that bottle you’ve been saving for your 50 year wedding anniversary, and certainly not a bottle you might drink at a teenage wedding or possibly a college art exhibition opening, but more of a “had a couple of drinks already and now I’m gonna pull you out of the cupboard and drink you all up” type bottle.

So that is the wine I have used to braised these beef cheeks for you right here today.

I have had the pleasure of using the fire to cook my dinner, but you can certainly use a pot on the stove top for yours.

The start of something good

Get a bit of colour on those cheeky cheeks
Add some sautéed mushrooms
Get it on a wooden camp table and serve some drinkable red wine in a mug to go with


(Serves 4)

1 kg beef cheeks, each cut into 3 pieces (a nice butcher will do this for you. A mean butcher will spit in your eye and then tell you to piss off)
100 g pancetta, sliced
1 onion, chopped roughly
3 carrots, cut into 5 or 6 pieces each – keep it chunky, keep it real
8 large cloves garlic, left whole and charred slightly on the coals (or raw chopped garlic will do just fine)
1 long red chilli, sliced
1 bottle of red wine
1x 400g tin diced tomatoes
500 ml beef stock or water
500 g button mushrooms, cut in halves or quarters depending on size
Salt and pepper

Heat a splash of oil in a heavy based pot or cast-iron camp oven over a medium-high heat. Add pancetta, onion, carrots, garlic and chilli, and sauté until starting to brown a little.
Add beef cheeks and season with a little salt and pepper. Sauté beef cheeks for 10 or so minutes until they are browned and tasty bits are starting to grip a little on the bottom of the pot.
Pour in the wine, tomatoes and water, and stir to get all of the good bits off of the bottom of the pot and into the gravy.
Cover and simmer over low heat for 3 hours, stirring every half hour or so.
(While the beef cheek simmering is going on you can sauté your mushroom in a little oil and butter until they are browned. Set aside)
After 3 hours add the mushrooms to the pot and stir through.
Cover and simmer for one more hour.
Check that the beef cheeks are tender – they should be ready to be cut with a spoon by now. If not, simmer for another 15 minutes or until soft, adding a splash of water if the gravy starts to thicken up too much.
Serve with mashed potatoes, jacket potatoes or potato bake and green beans if you have some.
Eat it.

Damn well delicious

*Goon. Aust slang. Cheap arsed boxed wine. A wine one might drink in their teenage / university days.

Foodisthebestshitever reunion dinner/pissup… part 1. Three flavour crazy sauce

I awoke this morning to the sight that some rude bastard, probably a local pub owner or something similar, had dumped a shit load of empty bottles on our verandah. Yeah, great start to a Monday. The place looked like a fucking recycling depot. There was ginger beer, wine, various other beers, more wine and grey goose vodka. What the hell? What sort of person would do this?

I had just dialed 00 on my phone, and was about to press the third 0 when the memories hit me. And when I say the memories hit me I mean the memories sort of put their hand up and very slowly and meekly made an old man swipe at my face. It wasn’t pretty.

I could remember preparing a feast but wasn’t sure if we had eaten it… what the hell happened. Paul! That’s what happened.

Paul (of “Paul’s Caul” fame on this very blog) and his lovely lady Lauren had finally made it to our humble home. They arrived after travelling many miles in the white man’s metal bird, and then even more miles of travelling in a cart drawn by three small kittens, strangely all of whom were named Veronica. But these kittens, although small in stature, were strong of heart, and they delivered their fare with great speed so were duely reimbursed for their time. That’s just about enough about the three Veronicas…

The level of excitement and anticipation that I have been experiencing this past week in the lead up to Paul’s visit was comparable to that of the obese child waiting for his morning helping of chocolate cake and burger rings. Like a teenage kid before schoolies, knowing I was in with a damn good chance to finally see some real boobies. Like other exciting and eagerly anticipated things. So yes, it was Paul that happened!

It has been many years since Pauly has ventured to this side of the country. In fact, the last time he came to stay was when Jen and I got married, some 8 years ago. With this in the front of my mind I had prepared myself both mentally and physically for the oncoming onslaught. I had been intensively training in the ancient arts of drinking and eating, and also dabbled a little in the lesser known art of gerbil throwing… one can never be to sure when Pauly is involved.

I should have trained harder.

You see, many years ago when I first met Pauly, he did not drink so much. Once or twice a year, maybe at my birthday or Christmas, he would pop over with a six pack of corona, slowly sipping away at one as I knocked off the other five. Oh my how things have changed. This guy truly believed he had been wronged by my liver in another life and was out for some serious vengence. And what does Geppetto have to do with any of this? Absolutely nothing except that Paul is sitting across from me on his MacBook (not actually sitting on his MacBook as that would most likely render it unusable) typing his account of events from last night and poked his little head up and asked me “how do you spell Geppetto?”. What the fuck that man is talking about is anyone’s guess at the best of times, but Geppetto? Bloody hell man.

I know we cooked a cracking dinner of pork belly (mine was roasted a la natural with the famed three flavor sauce, which Paul declared was ridiculously good and affectionately named it “crazy sauce”. Paul did his with a rocking spice rub and offered a side of sweet potato and lentil curry) that I would’ve enjoyed eating for sure, we drank a lot (the 97 blurry assed photos on my camera are proof of that), and good times were had by all (see 97 blurry assed photos)… and the gerbil is still alive and kicking. That’s all I’ve got.

I seriously can’t remember much more then that. I could make some shit up, which wouldn’t be too far away from my usual form, but I’m just not going to.

The chiminea was amped
The chiminea was amped
The two offending pork bellies
The two offending pork bellies
Pork belly glory
Pork belly glory
This photo shows that we cut the pork, but I don't remember doing it
This photo shows that we cut the pork, but I don’t remember doing it
Real men eat out of pots
Real men eat out of pots
Pauly was not impressed that I put the sauce in a bowl
Pauly was not impressed that I put the sauce in a bowl

THREE FLAVOUR CRAZY SAUCE (enough for a big porky feast with some left over for a grilled fish tomorrow)


2 brown onion, rough dice

1 red capsicum, rough dice

5 cloves garlic, rough dice

1x 3cm knob ginger, rough dice

1x 3cm knob tumeric, rough dice

5 coriander root, wash, dice


the rest

1 cup tamarind puree

500ml water

500ml pineapple juice

1kg castor sugar

125ml fish sauce

1 large pineapple, small dice

5 kaffir lime leaf

5 dried long red chilli, whole

2 fresh long red chilli, fine slice

  • Blitz paste ingredients with a little oil to consistency of coarse paste.
  • Cook paste out for a few minutes then add everything except pineapple, chilli and kaffir leaf.
  • Simmer sauce and reduce until starting to thicken.
  • Add all other ingredients and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
  • Check seasoning. It should be hot, swee and sour. Use your smart brains to adjust it if needed