Life / Food

Braised veal cheeks spell L-O-V-E on Valentine's Day

Cook from the heart on Feb. 14 and give your Valentine this sumptuous indulgence.

The cocoa used in the sauce adds subtle notes of fruit and spice to this dish.

Courtesy Ricardo / Ricardo

The cocoa used in the sauce adds subtle notes of fruit and spice to this dish.

This Valentine’s Day I’m going to make someone special an exceptional homemade meal. What I love about this braised veal cheek dish is that it’s simple and easy to throw together, but it does take some planning.

Veal cheeks are usually easy to find, but I suggest talking to your butcher and ordering them ahead of time just in case. If you can’t find any, replace them with beef cheeks, which are just as good.

This recipe uses cocoa powder to thicken the sauce, which adds subtle notes of fruit and spice to this dish.

BRAISED VEAL CHEEKS WITH COCOA SAUCE

Ingredients:

6 veal cheeks, trimmed of fat

2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

3 celery stalks, chopped

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 cup (250 mL) red wine

1 cup (250 mL) veal stock

2 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted

Directions:

With the rack in middle position, preheat oven to 275 F (140 C).

In a Dutch oven over high heat, brown meat in oil. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

In the same Dutch oven over medium heat, soften vegetables in rendered fat. Deglaze with wine. Add veal stock and browned meat, and bring to a boil. Cover, transfer to oven and braise until meat is fork-tender, about 3 to 4 hours.

Remove meat from Dutch oven.

Whisk cocoa powder into sauce. Adjust seasoning. Return meat to Dutch oven.

Serve with carrots and mashed potatoes.

Makes 6 servings.

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