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Beef Cheek Moussaka

Chef Salvatore Calisi
Dio Deka

[Serves 4]


1 1/2 lb of beef cheeks or veal

1/2 cup of all purpose flour

1 cup of olive oil

1 carrot diced

1 celery stalk diced

1 medium onion diced

2 cloves of garlic chopped

1 shallot

2 T of tomato paste

2 cups of red wine

4 sprigs of thyme

5 bunches of oregano

2 bay leaves

10 black peppercorns

2 cinnamon sticks

4 cups of water

1 small bunch of dill

1 eggplant peeled

1 Idaho potato

1 zucchini

4 oz of salted butter

3 cup of milk

1 pinch of salt

1/4 t ground fresh nutmeg

2 oz of manouri cheese or Grana Padano

2 cups of beef stock or base


Take your beef cheeks and remove any excess fat. Season them with salt and pepper, and dust them with flour. Take a hot skillet with some of the olive oil and add your beef cheeks to the pan. Cook both sides until golden brown, and remove from the pan and transfer into a braising pan. In the same pan that you cooked the beef cheeks add a little more oil and add to it your carrots, celery, onions, chopped garlic and shallot.  

Roast these vegetables until they become caramelized.  For the next step add to the same pan with the vegetables the tomato paste, red wine, the thyme and oregano.  Stir the bottom of the pot with a spoon to make sure you remove any of the drippings.  Drippings are flavor.  Pour this into the braising pan where you already have the beef cheeks.  

Next, add the bay leaves, peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, and the water.  Cover with foil and transfer to a 300 degree oven and cook for 2 hours until 75 percent of the liquid has evaporated. By this time the meat should just fall apart when you touch it. Strain the natural juices and remove the cheeks, so that on one side you have the cheeks, and on the other side you have the strained liquid.  Allow the cheeks to cool, then shred them and add the chopped dill.

In a sauté pan add olive oil and turn flame to medium. Slice the eggplant, zucchini and potato into ¼ inch slices. Season with salt and pepper. Dust them with flour and sauté them until they are golden. Place them on paper towels to remove any excess oil.

For the Béchamel get a sauté pan and add the butter and the rest of the flour to make a roux.  Cook over a medium flame until both are combined and it starts to bubble. Remove from flame. In a sauce pot, add the milk and bring to a slight boil.  Whisk the roux slowly into the milk until it starts to thicken.  Turn off the fire and add the manouri cheese. Mix well.

For the assembly, place a layer of potato, a layer of beef cheeks, a layer of zucchini, a layer of beef cheeks, and a layer of eggplant in a baking dish/circular ring molds. Top this off with the béchamel and bake it for about 20 minutes in a 450° F oven until the béchamel is golden brown, and forms a nice crust. Let it cool. Cut out a piece any size or shape you desire and serve with the natural jus.

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