Highlands Braised Beef

Highlands Braised Beef

The Highlands Bar and Grill in Birmingham, Ala., has evolved with dining trends to a small degree over the years (these days, of course, there is a poached “farm egg” on the menu), but it also bucks them to a larger one. The point has been to change carefully and ever so slightly, always and never. At no time can the restaurant be perceived as changing at all. This recipe for braised beef cheeks is served with pirlau, a rice porridge of sorts, made here with chanterelles and basmati rice.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 4 persons



  1. Step 1

    Heat the oven to 450. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan set over medium-high heat, until it is nearly smoking. Add the beef pieces in batches and brown well all over, approximately 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  2. Step 2

    Add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to pan set to medium heat. Add the onion, celery and carrots, and cook, stirring, for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for approximately 5 minutes more, until the vegetables are tender and the onion is translucent. Add sherry, scraping up the browned bits, and boil until it is thick and syrupy. Pour in the red wine, bring to a boil and reduce by 1/4. Remove from the heat.
  3. Step 3

    Arrange the beef in a Dutch oven or large oven-safe pot with a lid. Add the vegetables and their cooking liquid, along with enough warm stock to come three-quarters of the way up the sides of the meat. Add the thyme, parsley stems, bay leaves and dried mushrooms. Cover the pot.
  4. Step 4

    Place the beef in the oven, and reduce the heat to 310. Cook until the meat is very tender, approximately 2 hours. When the meat is done, transfer to a cutting board and let it rest, uncovered.
  5. Step 5

    Strain the braising liquid into a saucepan, pressing on the vegetables with the back of a spoon. Place the saucepan over very low heat and bring to a gentle simmer, skimming off the fat that rises to the top. Continue simmering and skimming until the liquid is slightly reduced and little fat remains, approximately 20 minutes.
  6. Step 6

    Put the beef back in the pot, add a little of the braising broth and warm gently over low heat.
  7. Step 7

    In a large sauté pan or Dutch oven set over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. When it begins to foam, add the peppers, carrots, onion, leek and bay leaf, and cook for 2 minutes or until the onion and leek just begin to soften. Cover and cook over low heat for approximately 5 minutes, until tender.
  8. Step 8

    Add the rice and stir for 1 minute to coat. Add 1 ½ cups of broth and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, approximately 15 minutes.
  9. Step 9

    Meanwhile, in another pan, melt another tablespoon of butter set over medium-high heat. When it begins to foam, add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until they are soft and tender, in the case of chanterelles, approximately 5 minutes.
  10. Step 10

    Transfer the finished rice to a serving bowl, discard the bay leaf and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and mushrooms. Season with thyme. Serve the meat over rice pirlau with more of the braising liquid spooned on top.