This is a very easy dish even if it takes quite a bit of cooking time. The end result is a dish that is so tasty and tender….. and you will know all the ingredients, so nothing weird at all!
Beef Cheeks are the cheek muscle of cows and they are a very tough cut of meat that needs to be cooked long and slow to make it tender. It absorbs the flavours of braising liquid well and when you cut into it, it is stringy, almost like pulled pork
If you haven’t cooked beef cheeks, yes they will take you away from your comfort zone but fret not, they’re melt-in-your-mouth and perfectly proportioned – slow cooked beef cheeks are your perfect winter dish. You should be able to get them from your butcher – I get mine from Farro Fresh – they are vacuum packed and you don’t really need to trim them, so no wastage at all
My recipe uses two kg of beef cheek, so easily enough for two dinners for four or one large dinner party which is how I like cooking and serving this meal – it is that simple and good!!
If you are serving it over two nights, what I do is on night one to serve it with our favourite mash, such as potatoes or kumara and a green vegetable or two, eg broccolini or beans and then on night two, as the heading suggests, simply with pasta and some baby spinach and freshly grated parmesan thrown in
I have written the recipe as a dinner for 8. You can cook this in a slow cooker – it will take around 8 hours on low heat
Wee bonus - The sauce freezes perfectly well, so for no extra effort you can have an easy meal on hand in the freezer.
Strong tip – cook the ragu one or even two days before you serve it – the taste will be enhanced and so good!
Approx. 2-2.5 kgs beef cheeks
2 tbs olive oil
100 gms pancetta, diced – you can use diced bacon instead, about 200 gms
1 onion, finely diced
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
1-2 carrots, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbs finely chopped rosemary
2 tbs finely chopped fresh thyme
2 tbs tomato paste
3/4 to 1 bottle red wine - I generally get a cheap bottle of merlot from the supermarket
Approx. 400 gms passata
500 mls beef stock
500-750 gms assorted mushrooms – whatever you like and can get
Sea salt and cracked pepper
If serving with pappardelle (halve if just second night)
500 gm packet of pappardelle
Packet of baby spinach
Half cup of freshly grated parmesan and more if you like