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Slow Oven Braised Beef Cheeks

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There’s lots to love about winter. Slippers, sloppy joe jumpers, open fires, soup, scarves and oven braised meat are some of my highlights. Melbourne has mild winters by world standards, no snow, no sleet, no ice, it’s just grey and damp, but it’s cold enough to be called winter.

I was never much of a fan of braised meat until I tasted it oven braised in a cast iron pot. At first I played it safe and only cooked commonly known cuts of beef sold as braising steak. As my confidence grew, I began to try oxtail, shin, short ribs, cheeks, all those sticky gelatinous cuts that cook to an unctuous softness that can be cut with a spoon. Now I really love winter!

Beef cheeks are unique. They can be braised whole and not disintegrate which makes for easy plating. One cheek is a perfect serve.

The first time you buy beef cheeks can be a bit daunting. On my first encounter a few years ago they were sold with a lot of tissue that needed to be trimmed off, but now it’s such a popular cut, your butcher has probably made them ready for the pot. If not, smile and ask him to do it for you. I bought my beef vacuum packed from the Farmer’s Market so I had to prepare the cheeks myself.

There is a thick layer of fat which needs to be removed. Cutting this fat off is quite simple if you have a sharp boning knife. Under the fat is a tough silver membrane so I use a technique similar to removing the skin from a fish fillet.

Place the cheek, fat side down, on a board. At the corner closest to you, slip the blade between the membrane and the muscle. Hold the corner of the fat and angling the blade toward the membrane, cut between the membrane and the muscle working away from your body,. It should cut away cleanly. Trim away any remaining obvious fat and non muscle tissue.

You should end up with a lean piece of meat the size of the palm of your hand.

4 beef cheeks
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
250mls robust red wine
250mls beef stock
1 large carrot, diced
4 sticks of celery, diced
6 medium sized Swiss brown mushrooms, diced
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 heaped tablespoon tomato paste (concentrate)

Preheat the oven to 150C.
In an ovenproof lidded casserole dish, I use a Le Creuset, heat half the olive oil then sweat the vegetables until soft. Add the tomato paste, bay leaves, thyme and garlic and continue cooking over a low heat.
While the vegetables are sauteeing, heat a frypan, season the meat with salt and pepper and brown the meat all over until well coloured.
Put the meat on top of the vegetables.
Deglaze the meat pan with the wine being sure to scrape all the brown crusty scraps into the wine.
Pour the wine over the meat then add the stock and enough water so that the meat is covered. Bring the casserole dish to the boil. Cover the surface of the meat and stock with a close fitting piece of baking paper, then put on the lid.
Slowly braise the beef cheeks in the oven for 3 hours.
Chill overnight, skim off any solidified fat, then reheat for another hour at 150C
We enjoyed our braised beef cheeks with parsnip puree and Brussels sprouts leaves sauteed with pancetta.

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About ladyredspecs

I live in sunny Brisbane, Australia. My love of good food drives me as a cook, a reader, a traveller, an artist and but mostly as an eater. I cooked professionally for many years but have no formal training. Simply guided by a love of eating good food, respect for ingredients and an abhorrence of artificial additives, I cook instinctively applying the technical know how acquired by experience. I hope you enjoy what I share Sandra AKA ladyredspecs

34 comments on “Slow Oven Braised Beef Cheeks

  1. Aneela Mirchandani
    June 24, 2014

    Thanks for this Sandra. It is the perfect recipe for my mother-in-laws impending visit. You know that is a high bar!

    Like

  2. Fae's Twist & Tango
    June 20, 2014

    Beef cheeks are one of the most tender meats and you have prepared and presented it so inviting. It is suppose to be summer where we are (close to SF), but where we live is very cool. As Mark Twain said, β€œThe coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” πŸ™‚

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      June 20, 2014

      Our weather is erratic too. We have a saying “Bored with the weather? Wait 5 minutes!”

      Like

  3. My French Heaven
    June 19, 2014

    Oh my God! This is absolute torture. The colors, the textures, I want some right now!

    Like

  4. chef mimi
    June 18, 2014

    What a beautiful dish! Beef cheeks really are wonderful, and they’re perfect for braising. And I’m with you on slippers and scarves!!!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      June 18, 2014

      Really it’s a classic braise with a mirepoix, red wine and good stock. The flavour is rich and delicious no matter what cut of meat you use. The last couple of winters we’ve escaped to the tropics, but I needed to have a winter at home to enjoy the upside. I’m loving winter!

      Like

  5. Glenda
    June 18, 2014

    Hi Sandra, I am having so much fun this winter braising ‘cheap’ cuts. The taste is amazing. I haven’t tried cheeks yet but I can appreciate how yummy they would be.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      June 18, 2014

      Glenda, cheeks have a unique texture. They are soft and succulent but keep their structure. They are truly delicious. Try them, you’ll be hooked. I’m braising short ribs next, then rabbit is on my list.

      Like

  6. Sally
    June 18, 2014

    Not just Winter. Sitting here with the temperature at 40 C outside and craving some of this.

    Like

  7. Michelle
    June 18, 2014

    Beef cheeks are so delicious. The perfect food for winter, even a temperate one!

    Like

  8. Marie-whenspoonmeetspot
    June 18, 2014

    Delicious food! Always tried it with Pig’s cheeks, will have a lookout for beef cheeks πŸ™‚ and the wine just adds that extra “yummieness”!

    Like

  9. dishnthekitchen
    June 18, 2014

    This looks delicious! I love beef cheeks. How do you feel about tongue? Hubby bought one from a guy at work and it’s sitting in my freezer. Not sure what to do with it…..

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      June 18, 2014

      I’ve only ever eaten tongue prepared by some one else, it’s okay,…..

      Like

      • Eha
        June 18, 2014

        Tongue, to me, is the most delightful part of a cow! Lots of easy ways to cook, but place in pot of water to cover with the usual peppercorns, bay leaves, cut up carrot, celery and onion – perhaps some garlic cloves if you desire – bring to boil, reduce heat, try for softness after 2-3 hours . . . Drain . . . Take skin off whilst still hot [easy at that stage] . Cut at an angle into medium slices and eat with a strong mustard or fresh horseradish sauce and anything else one may like for a one pot dinner. Rest fantastic cold in salads and sandwiches πŸ™‚ ! Absolutely sensual and exciting!!!!

        Like

      • ladyredspecs
        June 18, 2014

        Is tongue a cut that needs to be pickled like corned beef?

        Like

    • Eha
      June 18, 2014

      Well, it may have more than one guise! But I have always seen it come ‘salted’ like corned beef already at the butchers. When my erstwhile MIL taught me to cook it, she always taught to put it into clear, cold water for at least 3-4 hours, changing the water once if I did happen to walk past! I guess I do that step automatically!! But, to me, the consistency and taste are just great! Oh yes, I do use it after ‘fried up ‘ and in stirfries also πŸ™‚ !

      Like

  10. My Kitchen Witch
    June 18, 2014

    It sounds like Melbourne has British weather! I love slow cooked meats and the cheaper cuts are so good done this way. All those veggies and herbs would perfectly complement!

    Like

  11. tinywhitecottage
    June 18, 2014

    Really love this cooking method. I have never heard of covering the beef with cooking paper before baking. Also, what a brilliant idea to refrigerate overnight, skim the fat and reheat! Makes perfect sense. Beautiful recipe.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      June 18, 2014

      Thanks Seana. As the sauce reduces the exposed meat has the potential to dry out, the paper keeps the beef moist. I think any slow cooked food tastes better the next day, the flavours “ripen” and the other bonus is that it’s super easy to remove any fat. For me slow cooked food makes winter enjoyable!

      Like

  12. marymtf
    June 17, 2014

    Haven’t tried beef cheeks yet. Your recipe sounds lovely.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      June 17, 2014

      Nice to see you around Mary. Beef cheeks are a wonderful cut. The meat literally melts in your mouth when slow cooked.

      Like

  13. trixfred30
    June 17, 2014

    My favourite beef! Absolutely the best.. BTW its supposed to be summer here but we have renamed it ‘Grey’ – no sun just greyness.

    Like

  14. cheergerm
    June 17, 2014

    Mmmm…this looks fine, love me a slow cooked winter casserole. Beef cheeks are fab, I have always got the butcher to trim them. Nice knife work! Winter has hit Sydney and whilst it’s certainly not the Antarctic, it’s cold for here. I grew up in Melbourne and when I first moved here I laughed at all the Sydney folks complaining of the ‘cold’..now I am one of them!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      June 17, 2014

      We have gone away the passed couple of winters but decided to stay put this years. I’m feeling the cold, so a warm braise in the oven is perfect for dinner. We all like to whinge about the weather……

      Like

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This entry was posted on June 17, 2014 by in Beef, Food, Gluten Free, Main Meals and tagged , , , , , , .
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