Piemontese beef cheek stew cooked in a pot

Winter? Cold? Snow? Time for Stracotto (beef stew) and since I want to treat myself well, I prepare a cheek of a Fassona cow in a pot.

Fassona is a breed of Piedmontese cow, raised in the sub-Alpine areas, and is considered one of the best cows in the world. Still it can be recognized grazing with their grandeur and by its whitish colour. It is with love that the breeders have given them the ‘Casa della Piemontese’ museum in Carrù in the province of Cuneo.

I choose a cheek, a cut of meat little known but one that reveals surprises. It is excellent boiled and stewed that reminds me of my grandmother Giuditta, the soul of the bar “al Bettolino” on the shores of Lake Maggiore, a few dishes every day and a different way for the whole week. Then it started again.

Perhaps I have taken from her the maniacal attention to the product and to the combination of dishes and wine. Good blood does not lie still.

The stew needs slow cooking, patient as the pace of mountain people. The name derives from the fact that it was originally prepared in pots that were left to cook overnight on a stove that was used at the same time both to heat the house and cook. The low cooking temperature below 100 degrees softens the meat and amalgamates the aromas.

Let this cheek  take as long as it wants.

Recipe stew of cheek

Let’s start with the choice of meat and we always look for one from local managed farms where you know how the animals were raised and what they ate. We put the meat to marinate for 3-4 hours with wine and herbs: 8 pieces of garlic, 2 cloves, peppercorns, thyme and onion.

The marinade liquid is not reused, but we do not fail to throw in a glass of  wine.

When we are ready and we are sure that the marinade has penetrated the whole piece, let’s start. True cooking. Fry the meat over high heat for a couple of minutes to seal the meat and trap the flavours, then add the vegetables (celery, carrot and onion) and let it go on low heat, very low.

Then I go for wine! I chose a Barbera, enough to almost cover it: 2 glasses for half a kilo of meat.

Lower the fire as if it were a candlelight and wait, wait, wait. It is a slow cooking at low temperature like the hours of the night.

It’s a king’s dish. And the kings are not in a hurry!

Meanwhile, sip the Same wine in the glass.