beef cheek question
I have enjoyed some great cheeks while dining out (Grano did some great ones as part of a wine tasting dinner I still dream about). I've been braising up a storm recently and wanted to graduate from short ribs - the recipes I was looking at suggesting ordering these from my butcher as they aren't often carried but easily ordered and I've never seen them at the meat counters.
I emailed my local place and this was the response I got back:
"No, we do not carry beef cheeks. That cut has a tendency to carry parasites and most plants do not process any more."
hmph. So I have posted over on the Ontario board about where to find beef cheeks in Toronto but I still wonder:
What are these parasites that are going to live through hours and hours of slow-cooking? Or is it simply as I suspect so some dolt doesn't think they can pan sear them and eat them medium rare?
Any help much appreciated - the dinner party where I want to cook them for isn't until the end of the month so I have some time to locate them - hopefully parasite free.
Since I live in the U.S., I won't try to address food safety issues in Canada. But, yes, it would have to be a dolt who served beef cheek tartare, wouldn't it? Do you have WalMart near you. I've bought beef cheeks there twice and quite inexpensive also. I haven't cooked them yet so please report back if/when you cook them. Will be interested to see what you did with them.
re: c oliver
I recently bought beef cheek from Walmart. Went in to check their brisket selection and found Rumba brand beef cheeks as well as hearts and tongue. My bargain cheeks were not so much a bargain when I opened the package. half of the package was fat. Just a large chunk of fat but positioned under the meat so you couldn't tell from the unopened package.
I ended up braising in the pressure cooker with onions, carrots and garlic. I had read recipes that suggest letting them cool in the braising liquid and slicing when cool. I now know why. There is a lot of intramuscular connective tissue what when melted in gelatinous. Kind of like short ribs but times 10. They had a melt in your mouth quality but you have to get into that kind of thing to enjoy them. Flavor was good. I had some left over barley that I tossed in the pressure cooker after removing the cheeks and solids and cooked in the broth. The barley came out plump and tasty. I served the cheeks on the barley with some fresh carrots and onions since the ones from the pressure cooker were mush.
Holy cow :) That is an immense amount of fat, isn't it??? Thanks for the warning. I had beef cheek ravioli at Babbo about a year ago and it was fantastic. But it was served there with "crushed squab liver and shaved black truffles." I need to think up something else for topping for obvious reasons :)
I hesitated responding, because I wasn't sure that I wanted increased competition for my beef cheeks but, though I will probably live to regret it, here is the answer you are looking for.
For the American poster, I do not imagine that a Toronto Walmart carries beef cheeks. For those in Toronto, you can find them at Toronto Kosher, located on the east side of Bathurst, south of the 401.
As with all kosher meat, you will find it more expensive than non-kosher, so don't be shocked when you find out the price.