The first time I had beef cheeks was at Le Coq au Vin, a Schmancy French restaurant in south Orlando. It was at a Beaujolais Nouveau release party and was one of the courses in a 5 course meal--each course paired with a "young and exuberant" Beaujolais Nouveau wine. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but it kind of looked like pot roast, and I am All About a good braise. I took a bite and Mama Mia (or should I say Mon Dieu?) it was the most meltingly tender, incredibly flavorful bit of heaven ever.
But I was eating face. Cow face. Awful. Offal. And I was Loving It. Loving It!
The magic of offal, the bits and pieces left over after all the prime cuts are gone--the organs, glands, shins, tails, ears, feet, face. I have come around to seeing the beauty of these meats. That, out of necessity, folks learned to coax Goodness and Flavor from what Anthony Bourdain terms The Nasty Bits. Some offal has even risen to Prime Eating, too. Paté de foie gras? Offal.
Cheeks are fatty and full of flavor, and aargersi--the author of this recipe--smartly pairs a very fatty meat with bold flavors and an acidic bite from pickled onions. The marinade is kind of molé-esque with nuts and coffee, and my mouth is literally watering thinking about putting these tacos together. I'm not sure if I'm going to stick with her original marinade or go off on my own little tangent as I am sometimes Wont To Do, but I do know that I am looking forward to sinking my teeth into these little guys. The Beloved chose this recipe, so he's excited too.
If you'd like to cook along, here is the original recipe for Barbacoa Beef Cheek Tacos on Food52.com. Please join me next Tuesday, June 5 (or possibly the following Tuesday, the 11th, if face is hard to track down in The Triangle) for the Offal Conclusion.
So what about you guys? What was your first experience with offal? Or are you on a strict No Offal diet?
Let me know, and have a lovely day.