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Put the beef cheeks in a dish, cover with the ale and add the garlic, thyme and bay leaf, then leave to marinate for at least 6 hrs – or overnight.
Heat oven to 140C/120C fan/gas 1. Strain off the cheeks and transfer the marinating liquid, garlic and herbs to a large flameproof casserole dish and bring to the boil. In a frying pan, brown the beef cheeks in a little oil until caramelised on both sides. Add the cheeks to the casserole dish with the marinade and pour in enough beef stock to cover. Bring to the boil, cover, then braise in the oven for 4 hrs until the cheeks are very tender. Every so often, skim off any fat from the surface to keep the stock clean.
While the beef is in the oven, make the malted onions. Put the ale in a frying pan, add the whole onions, cover and simmer until the onions are tender, about 20 mins. Leave to cool completely, then remove the skin and slice the onions into sixths and set aside.
Once the beef is cooked, remove the cheeks, herbs and garlic and set aside, then reduce the stock rapidly until it is syrupy. Return the cheeks to the pan and glaze with the sticky reduction, then keep warm until needed.
Roughly 40 mins before you’re ready to serve, make the risotto. Put the chicken stock in a large pan and bring it to the boil. Add the barley, then cook for 15 mins. Remove from the heat, strain, then tip the barley into a medium-sized pan.
Place the garlic in a small pan with the double cream and bring to the boil. Simmer for 3 mins, then transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside about 50ml of the garlic cream and pour the remainder over the barley. Keep warm over a low heat.
Meanwhile, separate the layers of malted onions and finish by frying in a hot pan, with a little oil and butter, until golden.
Just before serving, add the Parmesan and lemon juice to the barley risotto and salt, to taste. Spoon on to the centre of each plate, then slice the cheeks and arrange on top of the risotto. Place 3 malted onion wedges around the side and drizzle over the reduced ale stock.
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