I know I have been guilty of going on (and on and on...) on Twitter about Titanic's Plum Porter. For this, I make no apologies. This award winning addition to the Stoke-on-Trent brewery's fleet is exceptional. So imagine the jigs of delight (or maybe don't) when I heard that Morrison's were to stock a bottled version branded as Hedgerow Porter. At only £1.50 for a 500ml bottle it all seemed to good to be true!
Admittedly there was a little cynicism as it is rare for the pint over the bar to ever taste anything like that from the bottle. Such negativity was ill founded.
Dependent on how chilled you like your bottled ales it's only a matter of time till the natural plum flavour hits - basically, the colder the quicker.
The depth and strength of the beer I believed would lend itself perfectly to ox cheeks and a lengthy spell in the slow cooker. Simple and hearty and the Porter proves a perfect ingredient.
Put 4 roughly chopped ox cheeks (trimmed of fat and of course - moustache and beard) in the slow cooker. Add whatever veg you fancy and can fit but I used 2 chopped carrots and a stick of celery - also chopped, a diced onion and half a dozen cloves of garlic - peeled and pressed. Pour over the bottle of Plum, add a tablespoon of cocoa powder and a hefty pinch of celery salt and pepper. Stir, making sure the cheeks are covered in the liquid. If not - add more Porter!
Put the cooker on low and leave. I left mine for about 10 hours, stirringly occasionally and adding a little more seasoning and a pinch more cocoa towards the end.
Reserve about half of the remaining liquid and bring it to the boil, add a couple of slugs of a decent red wine and a good pinch of brown sugar. Reduce by half. I served (enough for 2 people in this instance) with sweet jacket potatoes, a dollop of soured cream and the reserved jus.
Maybe it is too good to be true. The Hedgerow is a limited edition so I suggest you get it while you can.
*Adapted from a recipe by Chow*