From a very young age, one of Neven's favourite pastimes was to shadow his mother in the kitchen, watching her cook; his pastime soon became ...
4 tblsp olive oil
4 x 250g (9oz) pieces beef cheek (well trimmed)
2 carrots (cut into chunks)
1 onion (roughly chopped)
2 garlic cloves (crushed)
600 ml red wine
1.2 l beef stock
2 fresh thyme sprigs
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
150 g piece smoked bacon (rind removed and diced)
150 g baby button mushrooms (wiped)
for the roasted garlic mash:
8 garlic cloves (unpeeled)
2 tblsp sunflower oil
900 g potatoes (cut into cubes)
50 g butter
about 2 tbsp milk
maldon sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
Ask your local butcher for beef cheeks as you will not find them in the supermarkets. Either get them to trim them down for you or else do it yourself, removing the top flap of meat as well as the silverskin from the bottom. They really are the most tender meat you’ll ever have tasted!
Preheat oven to 160°C (325°F/Gas 3). Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a large casserole dish. Add the pieces of beef cheek and brown all over for 4-5 minutes, turning regularly with tongs. Transfer to a plate.
Add another tablespoon of oil to the casserole, reduce the heat a little and add the carrots, onion and garlic. Cook for a further 5 minutes until golden brown, stirring.
Return the beef cheeks and any juices to the casserole and pour over the red wine and beef stock. Add the herbs and season to taste, then bring to the boil. Cover tightly with foil and a lid. Bake for 3 hours until the beef cheeks are meltingly tender.
Carefully remove the beef cheeks from the braising juices and leave to rest on a warmed plate.
Strain the cooking juices into a pan and reduce down on a rapid simmer for 40-45 minutes until reduced by a quarter.
Reserve the vegetables with the beef cheeks, covered in foil to keep warm.
Meanwhile, make the roasted garlic mash. Place the garlic and the oil in a small frying pan and cook over a low heat for 8-10 minutes until the garlic cloves are completely tender but not coloured.
Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
Place the potatoes in a large pan of boiling salted water, cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until completely tender.
Drain the potatoes, and mash until smooth, then beat in the butter and add enough milk to make a smooth puree.
Squeeze out the pulp from the cooled garlic cloves and mash with a fork.
Beat in until evenly combined, season to taste and keep warm.
Then reheat the large non-stick frying pan. Add the remaining oil and sauté the bacon and mushrooms for 4-5 minutes until golden brown.
Drain off the oil and stir into the reduced down braising juices. Season to taste.
Place a couple of spoonfuls of the roasted garlic mash into each wide-rimmed bowl and carefully arrange the cooked beef cheeks on top.
Ladle over the braising juice with smoked bacon and mushrooms.