Beef cheeks are a good alternative if you want something different from the usual steaks. They’re perfect for stews and they become so incredibly tender that they literally melt in your mouth. Delicious!
What are beef cheeks?
Beef cheeks are, as the name implies, the cheeks from the head of the beef. Because they are constantly in motion because of chewing, it’s a “working meat”. Working meat is a little bit chewy due to the constant movements. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less tasty. Beef cheeks are super tasty and very tender. You can use them for stews.
The beef cheeks are provided with a sinew. This is always removed by the butcher, so that you are left with a clean beef cheek.
What makes the beef cheeks even more fantastic is that they are very affordable. For the result you get with it, you would think you bought a premium cut of meat.
What should you know before buying beef cheeks?
Before you buy beef cheeks, think carefully about how many people you will be cooking for. They range from 350 to 400 grams, but they shrink to about 250-300 grams when cooked.
In addition, keep in mind that you buy beef cheeks that are completely trimmed. So well cleaned and completely stripped of the sinew.
How do you cook beef cheeks?
The most common way to cook beef cheeks is to cook them slowly at a low temperature, so low & slow. Often red wine is added with some herbs.
Actually, there’s not really any other cooking method other than low & slow cooking, because beef cheeks are really chewy. It’s very important that they become tender in a moist way, such as in a stew.
Recipe: Stewed beef cheek in red wine with polenta
Stewed beef cheek in red wine with polenta
- 1 kg beef cheeks with excess fat and membranes removed
- 750 ml red wine full-bodied
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 slices bacon cut into pieces
- 200 g mushrooms halved
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 1 small carrot cut into cubes
- 1 celery stalk cut into cubes
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tsp red wine vinegar
- parsley coarsely chopped
- olive oil
- 1 liter milk
- 750 ml water
- 300 g polenta
- Clean the beef cheeks by removing the excess fat and membranes.
- Crush two garlic cloves with the blade of a knife. Then put them together with the beef cheeks, the wine and thyme in an oven dish. Cover it with aluminum foil and let it marinate overnight in the refrigerator. If you don’t have this time, let it marinate for at least two hours.
- Preheat the oven to 180 °C.
- Trim the fat from the bacon and heat it in a cast iron skillet. Add the sliced bacon and fry it for 4-5 minutes over a medium heat. Stir regularly until it turns brown. Remove the bacon from the pan and place it in a bowl.
- Add some olive oil and fry the mushrooms on high heat for 6-8 minutes until they turn brown. Stir regularly. Remove them from the pan and place them in a bowl.
- Meanwhile, remove the beef cheeks from the marinade and pat them dry with kitchen paper. Keep the marinade without the garlic. Generously sprinkle the beef cheeks with salt and pepper. Then put them in the pan and sear them on medium heat for 5-6 minutes until they’re nicely browned. Remove them from the pan and place them in a bowl.
- Put some olive oil in the pan. Then add the onion, carrot and celery and cook for 6-7 minutes until it softens and begins to caramelize. Finely chop the remaining two garlic cloves and add them. Also add the red wine and thyme from the marinade. Let it cook for 5-6 minutes until it has reduced by half.
- Then add 125 ml of water and the bay leaf. Bring it to a boil and add some salt and pepper. Return the beef cheeks to the pan along with the mushrooms and bacon.
- Cut a circle of parchment paper the size of your casserole pan. Wet it under running cold water. Place it in the pan and press gently so that air bubbles disappear. Put the lid on the pan and let it sit in the oven for 3-3.5 hours until you can pull the meat apart with a fork.
- Bring the milk and water to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the polenta and cook it for 30-40 minutes, while stirring constantly.
- Remove the pan from the oven and take out the beef cheeks. Place the pan on a medium heat and let it simmer for 5-6 minutes until it has reduced a bit. Boil the red wine vinegar.
- Roughly pull the beef cheeks apart and return them to the pan.
- Spoon the polenta onto the plate and place the beef cheeks with the mixture on top.
Looking for more inspiration? Then see below more recipes with beef cheeks. Or check our beef recipes for even more inspiration.