Bodacious Braised Beef Cheeks

I have wanted to get my hands on some beef cheeks for a while now, ever since I tasted some truly amazing cheeks in a Tapas restaurant in Brighton last year. They were so tender, the texture was just incredible, served in a rich, deep red wine sauce. They completely stole the show that night and have remained in my memory ever since.

So, when I was over picking up some mince from my pals at Grasspunk recently, I ‘cheekily’ asked them if they might have any beef cheeks loitering at the back of their fridge and as luck would have it, they had a cheek that they could give me.

Having got my hands on a very large, very darkly coloured beef cheek, I have to say I was fairly excited! For me, being able to experiment with ingredients that are unfamiliar and a little scary, makes my heart beat a little faster. So, with a certain amount of unrestrained glee, I began to form a plan for my wondrous cheek.

The tapas cheeks that I had tasted in Brighton had a certain sweetness to the sauce that I wanted to try to emulate. And of course the key to the meltingly soft texture and richness is in long, slow cooking and a well reduced sauce.

Having recently added saucisson to my ‘Pot au Feu’ recipe, I thought it might also work in this dish. Alongside shallots, carrots, garlic and a dash of Worcestershire Sauce for a nice lift at the end.

I braised my cheek for a good 2 1/2 hours and served it generously with some mashed sweet potato. The texture was literally spectacular. Beef cheeks don’t feel like offal, although essentially they are. They are more like a luxurious cut of meat that melts in the mouth, and packs a full on beefy punch.

So my advice to you is this…don’t dismiss the beef cheeks! They are not at all scary or difficult to prepare or cook. And they deliver such a terrific treat on a plate, you cannot fail to enjoy them.

Be brave….you won’t regret it !

Beef Cheeks Braised in Red Wine with Sweet Potato Mash

(Serves 2 generously)

1 beef cheek, cut in half

1 tbsp plain flour

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tbsp olive oil

100g cured saucisson

3 shallots, cut in half

2 carrots, cut into batons

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

50ml sherry vinegar

1 heaped tbsp tomato puree

500ml red wine

750ml beef stock

2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

2 large sweet potatoes

milk & butter for mash

To prepare the cheek, remove as much of the white sinew as possible and cut the cheek in half. Mix together your flour and paprika and then dust the cheeks in the flour. Heat the olive oil in a thick based saucepan and fry your cheeks to give them some colour. Set aside.

Beef Cheeks raw

Add your shallots, carrots, garlic and saucisson to the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes then add the sherry vinegar and let that reduce to almost nothing which only takes a minute or two. Then add your tomato puree and cook that for another 2 minutes.

Beef Cheeks Vegetables

Pour in your red wine and bring to the boil. Let it simmer for 5-10 minutes to let it reduce by a third. Then add your cheeks back to the pan and pour in your beef stock. Bring this to a simmer, cover and cook for 2 1/2 hours, checking and stirring occasionally. If it looks to be getting a bit dry, just add a splash of water as required.

Beef cheeks braising

To serve, make your sweet potato mash. Peel and chop your potatoes and boil them in salted water for 12-15 minutes until cooked. Then mash them with a splash of milk and a knob of butter and plenty of seasoning. Serve your cheeks on top of the mash.

Braised Beef Cheeks

I am entering this recipe in to two great challenges. First of all, Credit Crunch Munch as beef cheeks are a good value cut. Credit Crunch Munch Challenge belongs to Helen from Fuss Free Flavours and Camilla from Fab Food 4 All but this month, it’s being guest hosted by Sian from Fishfingers For Tea. 

Credit Crunch Munch logo

And I am also entering this into Made With Love Mondays hosted by Mark from Javelin Warrior’s Cookin w/Luv as it was made completely from scratch…

Made with Love Mondays, hosted by Javelin Warrior

36 thoughts on “Bodacious Braised Beef Cheeks”

  1. These look amazing, Anneli – and the plating is so beautiful. The sweet potatoes sound like a perfect pairing and I love the addition of sausage to the beef cheeks. This is inspiring!

    1. Thanks Mark. The sweet potatoes were perfect with the cheeks and added the sweet notes I was looking for. Since making this, I have stocked up the freezer and have another 2 cheeks in there. Oh lucky lucky me! x

  2. Lovely recipe and lovely quality meat by the look of it. Oddly enough, the first time I realised just how good beef cheek could be was in a restaurant in the south of France. Although it’s still relatively cheap, beef cheek increased in price a fair bit in the last year around here, sadly, following a number of mentions on TV shows. That’s the price of fame, I suppose.

    1. Thanks Phil! The meat is of the highest quality from 100% grass fed cows – just 20 minutes down the road from me. Of course the more word gets out about how good these cheeks can be, the higher the price will go. But I will still buy them as they taste so good! Thanks so much for stopping by x

    1. Thankyou! It is a great sauce that would work equally well with a nice slow cooked braising beef steak. BUT why not ask your butcher about some cheeks. After all, they must go somewhere? Good luck x

  3. “”cheekily” asked them”, haha :D.

    I don’t think I ever saw beef cheeks before in a butcher (not even sure what they’re called in French, will need to look it up). What’s the flavour like?

    The dish looks lovely – very rich and dark!

    1. So glad you get my humour :) To be honest, I have not seen the cheeks at the butchers either but then I don’t think I looked very hard. They are called ‘Joue de Boeuf’ here in France and I think they eat them here so you should be able to ask for them if not buy them off the shelf. The flavour is deeply beefy but it’s the texture that will truly float your boat. They are so soft and melt in your mouth. Sublime. Definitely worth a little effort to seek them out. Let me know if you manage to find any! x

  4. Anneli,
    How wonderful that you can buy such good quality meat locally. That makes all the difference.
    When the weather here in NYC turns a bit cooler (like in 3 months!), I will seek out these bodacious cheeks!

    Stacey

    1. Hi Stacey, I absolutely love being able to buy 100% grass fed beef from my friends 20 minutes away. It is great to know the provenance of your food…and the flavour is amazing too! I agree these cheeks look like a wintery dish but actually, they didn’t feel too heavy and I could eat them anytime! Let me know if you do manage to find some in a few months time…I am sure you will enjoy them x

  5. This dish looks utterly sublime and I have never even heard of beef cheeks before so thank you for the lesson:-) A true frugal recipe with no compromise on taste. Thanks for entering Credit Crunch Munch!

    1. Thanks Camilla. I guess being offal, they are not readily available on supermarket shelves. But I think they are a very unscary cut of offal (unlike many other very scary cuts!). Honestly, they taste like expensive steak and are so tender…I have no idea why they are not more popular! x

  6. That looks and sounds so tempting. Especially served with the sweet potato mash – I’m on a real sweet potato kick at the moment… I’m just not sure I could face having the oven on for that length of time at the moment. It’ll have to wait until the weather cools down a bit!!

    1. I know what you mean. It was considerable cooler when I made these cheeks than it is now. Just store this idea away for later use :) Glad you like them though x

  7. Now how good does this look?! I’ve never cooked or indeed eaten beef cheeks but I’m so going to now. I’m pretty sure I could be a big fan! And I’m loving the sweet potato mash too. Gorgeous and inspiring recipe Anneli!

    1. You need to get your hands on some cheeks pronto! I know you will love them! I am sure you would be able to order them from a butchers in the UK….they are quite fashionable now aren’t they! Thanks Lou xx

  8. How fabulous! I think you got this absolutely spot on! i am really envious since my local butcher looks at me a bit grumpily when I ask for the cheeks and tells me that he doesn’t get much call for them. I suspect he is a big fibber and is keeping them for himself. But should I ever get any then this is the recipe I shall be cooking!

    1. Thanks Rachel. I suspect your butcher is fibbing also! They know what they are doing and he no doubt scoffs on tender beef cheeks every Sunday! And who can blame him :)

  9. I shall definitely try this Anneli. Before I have used them in briased steak and kidney. They taste divine with a couple of dumplings on the top.

    1. Oooh yes, I bet they would work well with steak and kidney. A wonderful tender contrast to the tougher kidneys. Dumplings sound good too…but I think I shall wait for colder times make them! x

  10. Yep, there’s nothing more tender than beef cheeks and they are a lot cheaper than other cuts of meat. I imagine your saucisson and paprika would give a nice smoky taste to the dish. I made beef cheeks last March and I found the meat a bit ‘yukky’ looking to work with- but the taste was great!

    1. Beef cheeks are out of this world tender! It can be a bit funny working with unusual meats. I didn’t expect the cheeks to be so dark. They reminded me of liver. But they are nothing like liver when cooked. I am looking forward to playing around with some more soon! x

  11. Yes I live south west France,went to see my daughter in Antibes and had cheeks as a plat de jour,I’m just about to re-create it using your recipe as it looks the best of the others
    Cheers

  12. Thank you for this brilliant recipe Anneli. I had seen beef cheeks being used on some TV ‘aren’t we clever chefs’ programs and saw them on a restaurant menu a couple of weeks ago. I was so taken with the flavour and texture I resolved to recreate the dish at home in Yorkshire. I eventually tracked some down by ringing around the local abattoirs. I was told a variety of misleading stories about cow heads going straight to the incinerators after slaughter and BSE precluding the use of any head meat from the butchers and farm shops i rung. The abattoir wouldn’t sell direct to me but told me of a butcher they supply about 10 miles from my home. So after a week i got a call from the butcher. 4 beef cheeks at £7 per kilo weighed 1.3 kilo’s and cost £9.53 ! Cooking 2 cheeks yielded 4 generous portions at under £5 per head for what was a midweek “gourmet treat. 10 out of 10 dad!” according to Josh, my impressed 25 year old son and thanks to your brilliant recipe.
    Michael. A happy cook :)

    1. Hi Michael….how lovely! I am so pleased that you stopped by to tell me that you enjoyed my recipe! It really does make everything worthwhile knowing that my recipes are being made and enjoyed. You have made my day. Many thanks indeed – from a very happy me x

  13. HI Anneli I’ve just picked up my box of mince and some beef cheek from Grasspunk and Brent mentioned that you had posted a cheeky recipe. It looks and sounds great and I’m going to try it this weekend. Thanks!

  14. I just picked up some beef cheeks and found your recipe. I can’t wait to try it. What kind of saucisson did you use? any cured sausage/ Would spanish chorizo be OK to use?

    1. Excellent! I am very pleased to hear that you are planning on giving this a go. Chorizo would be a wonderful addition giving an extra level of warmth to the dish. I can see that working very well. I just used a bog standard pork cured sausage common in this area of France. But I am sure and cured sausage would work and stand up to the long cooking. Please do come back and tell me how you got on.!

  15. I made it last week and used a spanish chorizo. It was delicious. I didn’t have any sherry vinegar so I subbed a black cherry balsamic. I wasn’t sure about the cheeks, there was a lot of fat on them but the meat was tender and delicious. They came frozen. I would pick up a bigger piece next time.

    1. Hi Judy, thanks so much for coming back to let me know. Sorry to hear your cheeks were fatty…I have not had that trouble. But I am happy that they were still delicious. Black cherry balsamic sounds very interesting and I bet that added a wonderful flavour. I really appreciate the feedback x

  16. Lovely recipe – I just made a christmassy version for my family (i added star anise, cloves and cinnamon early on, it smelled worryingly like mulled wine at one stage but worked out in the end ;) ) and they loved it. many thanks xxx

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