Za’atar Beef Cheeks With Fennel and Mango Salad Recipe

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Heat the oven to 325 degrees. In a heatproof bowl, pour 2 cups boiling hot water over 6 large pitted dates. Cover and let steep until cooled to room temperature.

Mix 1/2 cup za’atar with 2 teaspoons kosher salt in a small bowl. Cut 2 1/2 to 3 pounds trimmed beef cheeks (or beef chuck) into 3-inch pieces and pat dry. Working one at a time, press the beef cheeks into the za’atar mix, coating the meat evenly, and transfer to a plate.

Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat. Add half the beef pieces and cook, flipping halfway through, until browned, about 20 minutes. Return the browned beef to the plate. Add 2 tablespoons more vegetable oil and repeat, browning the rest of the beef. Wipe the pot dry and reserve.

While the beef browns, combine the rehydrated dates and their soaking liquid, 2 cups more water and 2 teaspoons kosher salt in a blender, and purée until smooth.

Transfer the browned beef back to the Dutch oven, add 2 bay leaves and 2 peeled and smashed garlic cloves, then pour in the pureed date mixture. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover and transfer the pot to the oven and braise until the liquid is reduced and the meat can easily be broken with a spoon, about 2 hours.

Remove the pot from the oven and let cool. Store the beef in the pot or transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days or until ready to use.

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