There are some bottles of gin that stand out. And it has to be said Kuro Gin is one.
Sleek, dark, it’s just an incredibly stylish bottle.
And no wonder, because the two gents who created it, and came up with the idea behind the gin, are both from the design world.
Kuro, was inspired by a skiing trip to Japan. It was whilst on the slopes of the Hakuba valley – fresh, clean, pine scented – that the thought occurred, could this intense fresh feeling be captured in a spirit?
Returning to the UK, Craig Fell and John Thompson, sought to recreate this experience, with the help of Langley’s Distillery in Birmingham. A recipe featuring 12 botanicals – juniper, bamboo, silver birch, spruce needles, angelica, coriander, lemon, orange, liquorice, cinnamon, nutmeg and orris was painstakingly created with the help of Langley’s Master Distiller.
And this final spirit had it’s launch at Impossible in Manchester.
Cocktails flowed. The perfect serve G&T, a twist on a White Lady, and my personal favourite for this gin (I had two, so it must be) the Martini.
It’s not surprising I enjoy it that way, there’s a toasty earthy note to the gin, something warm, backed up with plenty of pine from the juniper and spruce, and a little light zestiness from the citrus peels.
So it’s a little surprising perhaps that when I was contemplating an accompaniment for some ox cheeks I picked up from Butchers Quarter, I couldn’t get the idea of putting Kuro in it out of my head. Despite the number of gins I could have selected, I just couldn’t move past it.
And I’m awfully glad I didn’t. The woody notes simply boost the umami notes in the dish, making it incredibly rich and layered. Beef and juniper may not love each other as much as juniper and venison, but it was still moreish enough to have both me and Mr GFB clear our plates.
I served this with a celeriac and potato dauphinoise, and braised cabbage, but a cheesy mash would work just as well.
Braised Ox Cheeks with Kuro Gin
- 2 Ox cheeks sliced into chunks will be around 1-1.5kg
- 75 ml Kuro Gin
- 150 g Bacon lardons
- 1 Large onion finely diced
- 1 Large or two small carrots, finely diced
- 1 green pepper finely diced
- 3 garlic cloves peeled and left whole
- 300 ml Stock beef or chicken
- Seasoning as required
- Oil for browning the beef
Preheat the oven to 160°C/Gas Mark 3.
Pop your casserole pan on the heat and brown the beef.
Once nice and brown, put in a bowl to once side, and add the bacon to the pan.
Cook until nice and crispy, then add the vegetables, and the garlic.
Once they've begun to soften, add the gin.
Use it to scrape all the browned beef and bacon bits from the base of the pan.
Then add the beef back to the pan, add a couple of sprigs of thyme and add the stock.
Top with a lid, and put into the pan for around 4 hours. The meat will become soft and tender.
Once you're almost ready to serve, remove the pan from the oven, and put it on the hob.
Take out the beef and put it to one side.
Take out the thyme and discard it.
Now reduce the liquid in the pan as much as you wish. It will become a sticky rich gravy.
When you're happy, serve the beef, with the gravy and whatever side dishes take your fancy.
I hope you enjoy this recipe, as much I enjoyed creating it!