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Veal cheeks cooked in red wine with La Serena mashed potatoes

Carrilleras de ternera al vino tinto con pure de patatas La Serena

Photography by Pablo de Loy
For the potatoes
Sea salt to taste
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
½ cup heavy cream
3 ounces La Serena cheese (or other soft, creamy sheeps’ milk or cows’ milk cheese)
¼ cup Spanish extra-virgin olive oil

This hearty recipe is sure to impress your friends and family. Tender veal cheeks are marinated overnight then braised in rich Spanish red wine and served alongside potatoes flavored with a creamy, decadent Spanish sheeps’ milk cheese traditionally served with a spoon.

For the veal cheeks:

4 garlic cloves
12 veal cheeks (about 2 ½ ounces each)
5 cups Spanish red wine, such as a Rioja
1 Spanish onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 leek, trimmed, rinsed and coarsely chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 sprigs fresh thyme
3 teaspoons sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoons Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
3 cups beef stock
4 sprigs fresh chervil



For the veal cheeks: Split open the garlic cloves by placing them on a chopping board and pressing down hard with the flat side of a kitchen knife. In a mixing bowl, combine the veal cheeks with the wine, garlic, onion, leeks, carrots, rosemary, thyme, sugar and cinnamon. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Remove the cheeks from the marinade, pat dry with a paper towel and set aside. Pour the marinade through a fine mesh strainer into a small saucepan and set the remaining vegetables aside to continue draining.

Add the sugar to the saucepan with the marinade and cook over medium heat, until the marinade reduces by half, about 1 minute. Skim off any foam that appears on the surface and set aside.

Spread the reserved vegetables in a layer across the bottom of a roasting pan. Roast the vegetables in the oven until brown and caramelized, 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Season the veal cheeks with salt and pepper and place them in the pan. Brown the cheeks on each side, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set side.

Once the vegetables in the roasting pan have caramelized, reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Lay the browned veal cheeks on top of the vegetables, without overlapping, and pour the reduced marinade over the top. Add enough stock to cover, about 3 cups. Cover the roasting pan with aluminum foil, pressing down on the foil until it touches the veal cheeks and vegetables. Bake until the meat is tender and easily falls apart, 2½-3 hours.

For the potatoes: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the potatoes, and boil until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and pass through a ricer, or mash by hand, to create a smooth puree.

In a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium-high heat until it just begins to boil. Pour the hot cream over the potatoes and, using a wooden spoon, stir together until well-combined. Add the cheese and continue to thoroughly mix together. Drizzle in the olive oil, as you continue stirring, until well-combined. Set the potatoes aside and keep warm.

Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the veal cheeks to a plate and keep warm. Strain the sauce from the pan through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Discard the remaining solids. Let the sauce rest for 5 minutes to allow the fat to separate, then skim off the fat with a ladle.

To serve, place a large spoonful of mashed potatoes on the center of each of 4 plates. Place three veal cheeks on top and spoon the sauce over the cheeks. Season with salt and garnish with chervil.