When I come up with a recipe, I think about the animal, how it lives, how it moves, what it does, its environment.
For this wagyu cheek dish, I think about how cows are always chewing. The cheek muscles are used more than their leg muscles. Because the cheeks are constantly moving, they have that intensity: we marinate them, braise them, glaze them with molasses and finally baste them with a peppercorn jus.
I also think about what the cattle eat and in this case, I’m making a kind of porridge using all the grains that the cow eats, ground up and cooked out slowly. I think that’s a fun one for folks. It’s that connectivity between the animal and its feed.
This is food to elicit discussion. Food is about conversations: I think we’ve gotten away from that a little bit but I firmly believe in sitting down and eating together.
4 Westholme wagyu cheeks
Salt & black pepper
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
4 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
750ml red wine
Veal stock, to cover
1 bunch broccoli rabe
28g blackstrap molasses
18g sorghum vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
35g garlic, sliced
3g chilli flakes
15g lemon zest
2 btsp green peppercorns, marinated in 52g Red Boat fish sauce
4 cups cooked (2 cups raw) Multigrain Porridge (see below)
3 tbsp hemp seeds
¼ cup steel cut oats
¼ cup farro
2 tbsp flax seeds
¼ cup barley
¼ cup buckwheat
¼ cup corn
Salt & pepper
Trim silverskin from wagyu cheeks, season with salt and black pepper, and place in a non-reactive container. Add the onion, celery, carrot, thyme and bay leaves. Add red wine, cover and place in refrigerator overnight.
Remove wagyu cheeks from the wine marinade and set aside. Preheat the oven to 120C/250F. In a pan over medium high heat, sear cheeks on both sides, remove and set aside.
In the same pan, caramelise the vegetables from the marinade, reserving the wine, bay leaf and thyme. Once caramelised, deglaze the pan with the wine and cook until ¾ reduced then add the veal stock to cover. Bring to a simmer. Let simmer for 20 minutes then blend the vegetables with the stock. Strain over the beef cheeks into a Dutch oven.
Add the thyme and bay leaf and cook in a preheated 120C/250F oven for 3.5 hours. Remove from oven and cool in the liquid overnight before using to get the best flavour.
Trim the tough stem ends on the broccoli rabe and blanch it in salted boiling water, then shock in salted ice water. Remove and set aside.
In a non-reactive pan over medium high heat, add blackstrap molasses and let simmer and bubble. Deglaze with the sorghum vinegar then add the beef cheek braising liquid with the beef cheeks. Baste with the sauce and then place in the oven for a few minutes. Remove and baste again and then place in the salamander to get the meat to glace.
While the cheeks are in the salamander, heat up the porridge (see below) stirring and loosening with milk if necessary.
In a separate pan over medium high heat, add extra virgin olive oil then the garlic and broccoli rabe, tossing to heat through, add the chilli flakes and adjust the seasoning with salt and lemon zest.
Strain green peppercorns and add to the wagyu cheek jus. Baste the cheeks again.
To plate, place porridge offset in the bowl then lay the cheek half on and half off the porridge. Sauce the beef cheek with the wagyu cheek peppercorn jus, then top with the sauteed broccoli rabe. Repeat this 3 more times then hurry up and serve the guests while it’s hot.
Using a grain mill, set the mill to medium-coarse. Grind everything but the hemp seeds.
Mix together in a non-reactive pot, starting with cold water with a 5 to 1 ratio (5 cups liquid to 1 cup dry). Cook over medium-low for 40 minutes constantly stirring so it doesn’t stick or scald. Once the grains absorb the water, add milk, season with salt and black pepper then finish with butter and Parmesan cheese. Store covered with a sheet of butter paper until needed.