At 28, Alan Clarke is the head chef at Maryculter House Hotel, having worked his way up via kitchens in Cullen, Edinburgh, Skye and Aberdeen.
When he’s not in the kitchen Alan enjoys eating out and spending time with his partner Sarah in their new home, as well as getting to grips with the garden.
‘We’re always planning ahead and are currently working on new dishes for our autumn menus. We like to feature the best of each season’s produce. The whole team has a real passion for service and commitment to our guests’ needs. Our suppliers – big and small – really push themselves to offer and showcase what Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire has to offer’.
South Deeside Road, Maryculter, Aberdeen AB12 5GB
Tel: 01224 732124
Grace’s Highland Beef Cheeks (serves 4)
Our beef comes from Grace Noble at Aberdeenshire Highland Beef, so this dish is named in her honour.
At Maryculter House, we serve the beef cheeks with Highland beef rump and Jacob’s ladder short rib. It comes with caramelised onion puree, shallot rings, Yorkshire pudding, fondant potatoes and wilted greens. Here’s a simplified version of the beef cheeks recipe to try at home. You’ll need to allow about five hours, so it’s one for the weekend. Six or eight cheeks will serve four people with your choice of vegetables and roast or boiled potatoes. Yorkshire puddings are a must, though!
Pre-heat the oven to 160°C. Cut each cheek up into four. Season with Maldon rock salt. Lightly oil a frying pan. Add the meat and sear completely at a moderate heat, then remove the beef. Take about 300g of a mix of carrots, leeks, garlic, white onion and celery. Leave the skins on and roughly chop. Add to the pan and cook on a high heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring continuously. Tip into a roasting tin. Take around 500ml of red wine and deglaze the pan, again at a moderate heat. Turn up the heat and to reduce down to a third of the original volume. Lightly scrape the pan, removing any liquid or leftover meat and vegetables. Add to the beef cheeks in the roasting tin. Cover with cold water, add thyme, rosemary and bay leaf. Put a lid on or cover with greaseproof paper and tinfoil. Put in the oven for 3 hours.
Remove and strain off liquid and set aside. Discard the vegetables. Roll the meat into sausage shape logs, chill for 1 hour and then coat in flour, egg and then breadcrumbs. Deep fry in oil.
Take the cooking liquid from the beef cheek and reduce down to 500ml, add 100 ml of full bodied red wine and allow to simmer. Once reduced, set aside.
Serve the fried beef cheeks with the warm red wine sauce and your choice of vegetables.