Beef cheeks are one of those cuts of meat neglected by butchers because of their low price value and people being prone to picking easier to cook cuts of beef rather than putting themselves through the rather long process of braising meat properly.
I won’t beat around the bush, it does take a while to braise beef cheeks properly as they are a tough cut of meat but similar to oxtail, if done correctly and with love, you’ll fall in love with slow cooked meat again. They’re also wonderful in gourmet burgers, just add lettuce, some mature cheddar and a tomato relish with a sweet chilli aoili and then the broken up pieces of beef cheek and you have an awesome burger.
I’ve used beer in this recipe because I find the alcohol helps break the proteins in the beef down better and the robust flavour of Carling Milk Stout (a South African version of Guinness, if you prefer, Guinness works well too) adds an edge to the final product.
4 Beef Cheeks
2 chopped onions
1 large carrot
4 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs rosemary
5 star anise pods
3 Bay leaves
50g caster sugar
100g cake flour
1 litre Castle Milk Stout
Coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
100g butter (not margarine)
750ml liquid beef stock
1. Place the beef, garlic, bay leaves, cloves, star anise, thyme, rosemary, chopped carrot, onion and beer in a bowl or container. Seal and refrigerate for 24 hours.
2. Preheat your over to 150°C
3. Mix the flour with some salt and pepper and place it spread out on a tray or in a large bowl.
4. Remove the beef cheeks from the marinate and pat them dry with paper towel and then drag them through the seasoned flour until coated. Shake to remove any excess flour. Set the marinade aside (do not throw it away!)
5. Heat a large, thick based casserole dish or deep oven proof pan on the stove, add the butter and oil. Fry the beef cheeks two at a time in the pan until brown. Remove, set aside.
6. Pour the marinade you set aside earlier on into the hot pan and add your beef stock. Allow to simmer, add your cheeks and cover with a lid. Keep the lid slightly ajar and tilted so as to allow air to escape.
7. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 4-5 hours. Check upon it every hour to make sure the liquid has not evaporated too much. If it has, add some water.
8. Remove the dish from the oven and using a slotted spoon, carefully lift the cheeks out of the dish. They may fall apart, be careful.
9. Strain the left over sauce from the casserole dish with a sieve and pour into a clean pan. Add the sugar. Place on the stove, heat at medium and allow to reduce till thick. Whisk in some butter to give it shine. Season and pour over the braised cheeks.
Best served with potato mash but that’s up to you. Done. Enjoy!