A winter-warming pot luck beef cheek and dillisk dumplings

One of our favourite foodie friends, Cliodhna Prendergast (co-founder of Lens & Larder) is helping us embrace the wet and windy in the run-up to Christmas with a rich and comforting recipe for beef cheek and dillisk dumplings. Using the finest Irish seasonal ingredients, this delicious dish will see you through until the big day and the flavours will only intensify with an overnight in the fridge.

Very Slow Cooked Beef Cheeks with Dillisk Dumplings

Beef cheeks are a pretty tough cut of meat, and the combination of ingredients here may seem a little unorthodox, but when cooked in a casserole for eight hours, a little bit of magic happens. The result is this pot of winter indulgence with rich flavours and meat that melts in your mouth. Served on the table, this dish invites everyone to help themselves.  Serves 4-6.

For the beef1.5kg beef cheeks olive oil salt and pepper 6 shallots, peeled 4 garlic cloves, peeled 6 carrots, peeled and chopped into large chunks 1 level tbsp flour 2 shots of espresso coffee 400ml red wine 2 tsp cider vinegar 1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes 500ml beef stock 2 tsp smoked paprika

For the dumplings25g beef dripping or butter 1 medium onion, finely chopped salt and pepper 15g fresh dillisk seaweed or a large handful of dried dillisk, soaked 150g breadcrumbs 1 tbsp flat leaf parsley 1 egg, beaten


To make 1 Preheat the oven to 100°C/gas mark ¼. 2 Heat a casserole pot, pat the beef cheeks dry, rub with a little olive oil and generously season with salt and pepper.  3 Sear the cheeks on all sides in the hot casserole pot. Remove to a plate to add later. 4 Add the shallots to the pot and brown at a moderate to high heat for five minutes, tossing around from time to time until browned and starting to soften. 5 Turn the heat down a little, add the whole garlic cloves and the carrots and cook for a further five minutes, tossing around occasionally. 6 Dust the vegetables lightly with the flour and mix through. 7 Add the coffee, red wine and cider vinegar, mix and simmer for 3 minutes until the liquid reduces slightly. Add the tomatoes, stock and the paprika. It will not taste very promising at this point, but have faith. 8 Put the seared beef cheeks back into the casserole pot, cover with a layer of baking parchment and then the casserole lid. 9 Place in the preheated oven and cook for eight hours. If not eating immediately, cool and refrigerate. 10 Whenever you are ready to serve preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. 11 To make the dumplings, melt the dripping or butter on the pan and fry the onions over a very gentle heat, with a little salt and pepper, until soft and translucent. 12 Remove from the heat and allow to cool. 13 Chop the dillisk very finely and place in a bowl with the breadcrumbs, flat leaf parsley, cooled onions and the beaten egg. 14 Mix all the ingredients together and form into eight balls. 15 Gently place the dumplings on top of the casserole, cover with the lid and cook for 10 minutes in an oven. 16 Remove the lid and cook for a further ten minutes until slightly browned and serve.

It can be enjoyed straight away, but is much better eaten a day or two later. The dumplings are best made fresh when ready for serving.

PHOTOGRAPHY & RECIPE Cliodhna Prendergast

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