We are currently right in the middle of winter and certainly in Auckland, the rain keeps falling, so it’s definitely the time to cook and enjoy those slow cook meals. Beef cheeks are a real favourite of ours, easy to cook and well worth waiting for the cheeks to slowly cook and then enjoy the flavour and melting-like texture of correctly cooked cheeks. Acknowledge that cheeks are one of the hardest-working muscles in the animal – think of cows chewing on grass all day long. This means that the meat is quite tough unless it's cooked gently, for a long time…..so a long, slow cook it is!!
I like to make this certainly one day before if not two and refrigerate it overnight. To quote Jamie Oliver…“Take the pressure off on the big day with this slow-cooked cut – it takes minimum effort but delivers a divine, melt-in-the-mouth texture. ”
We serve this dish with a mash or puree (any of potato, parsnip, parsnip and carrot work) and a green vegetable – any of beans, broccolini or brussel sprouts are ideal, even peas from your freezer.
You can substitute the cheeks with another slow cook cut such as chuck or gravy beef – it will take about an hour less time to cook
If you have some leftover, serve it with pappardelle and baby spinach the next evening and some shaved or grated parmesan
Approx. 1.5-1.8 kg beef cheeks – I get them from Farro but most butchers and some supermarkets will have them
2 onions, chopped
2 sticks celery, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
3-4 rashes of bacon
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 cup beef stock
1 – 1.5 cups of red wine
3 thyme stalks
1 bunch of baby carrots – they really enhance the dish
2 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper
1. To prepare the beef cheeks: cut off any large, fatty membrane. Pat dry then use 1 tsp of salt and black pepper to season the beef all over – I also gently coat the cheeks in flour but you don’t have to do this
2. Cut the cheeks into large pieces approx.. 8-10 cms long by a similar width – see the photo below
3. Heat a large ovenproof casserole dish on the stove. Brown the cheeks on all sides. Remove cheeks and drain off any excess fat.
4. Add the onion, bacon, celery and garlic, stirring to soften for 3 minutes.
5. Place the cheeks back into the dish.
6. Pour the wine into the pot / casserole dish and stir to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pot. Bring wine to simmer for 1 minute.
7. Add the mustard, stock and thyme. Cover and place into the oven or stove top for 2 hours.
8. Add the baby carrots, salt and pepper, then put back into the oven for 1 ½ hours or until the meat is tender.
If not serving immediately, cool and remove any fat before reheating.