In Northern America where beef knee caps are fed to the dogs, people don’t know what they’re missing. The gelatinous meat around the knee caps is divine. Patience is required though to make it fork tender. It took three hours to cook this beef knee caps a la bistek.
I understand that in Northern America, beef knee cap is sold without the meat that surrounds it. The bone which is covered with a tough cartilage is given to dogs to chew on as a treat or to clean their teeth.
In the Philippines, beef knee cap is valued for the meat attached to it. It’s a very inexpensive cut. Well, at least if you compute the price per kilo. But considering that a huge part of the cut is bone — which you don’t eat, of course — then, it’s not really as cheap as many like to think. The meat, however, is delicious. And, seasoned a la bistek, it makes a memorable meal.
Start by rinsing the beef knee caps and patting them dry with paper towels.
Heat up a few tablespoons of oil in a wok or frying pan and sear the knee caps. One at a time if they are rather large.
Transfer to a pot, pour in bone broth, add seasonings and simmer until fork tender. Scoop out carefully with a large spatula, move to plate, prepare the sauce and ladle it over the meat along with lightly fried onion rings, plenty of crispy garlic and scallions.
It takes very little work, believe me. After searing, you can read a few chapters of whatever book you’re currently obsessing with, or watch a film or two episodes of your favorite TV show. There’s nothing to do with the meat at that stage, really. No need to stir, no need to flip, no need to do anything but wait.
Yes, the cooking time is quite long. The meat around the knee cap is stewing meat, and long and slow cooking is best to really break up the tendons to turn them gelatinous.
Can beef knee caps be cooked in a slow cooker or a pressure cooker? Sure! But since I used neither in this recipe, I can’t make any guesses about the cooking time.
Beef Knee Caps a la Bistek
- 1 kilo meaty beef knee caps
- cooking oil
- 4 to 6 cups bone broth
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 shallots
- 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- salt to taste
- 2 whole white onions thinly sliced into rings
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 to 3 tablespoons kalamansi juice or substitute lime or lemon juice
- fried garlic to garnish
- sliced scallions to garnish
Rinse the knee caps and wipe dry with paper towels.
In a wok or frying pan, heat enough cooking to reach a depth of at least half an inch.
Sear both sides of the knee cap until browned. Scoop out and move to a pot.
Pour four cups of bone broth into the pot.
Add the garlic, shallots, peppercorns and bay leaves.
Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer. After an hour, taste the broth and add salt, if needed. Because you're dousing the meat later with sauce, it is best to under season at this point. Go easy on the salt.
Cook the beef until the meat is separating from the bones. Depending on the age of the animal, that should take anywhere from two to three hours.
When the beef is almost done, lightly fry the onion rings in the same oil where the beef was seared. Set aside.
Scoop out the meat and move to a serving bowl or plate.
Pour the soy sauce and kalamansi juice into a sauce pan. Add enough broth (in which the beef knee caps were simmered) to make a salty-tangy sauce. Bring to the boil then turn off the heat.
Ladle the sauce over the beef knee caps. Garnish with the fried onion rings, crispy garlic and sliced scallions.