October 2016 Update: This beef cheeks recipe continues to be one of the most popular recipes on the blog. These babies are well worth trying if you are new to the wonder that is beef cheeks.
Unfamiliar with beef cheeks? They are literally the cheeks of the animal, usually a cow. A very tough and lean cut of meat that is most often used for braising or slow cooking to produce a tender result. And when cooked properly, they are TO DIE FOR! Meltingly good. Trust me on this.
Around here, we refer to beef cheeks as ‘chief beaks’. My partner, David coined the term. And, he still gets a little bit excited when he knows they’re on the menu. I haven’t actually seen him do a ‘beef cheek’ dance, but I’m pretty sure he’s doing one on the inside…
“You are what what you eat eats.” – Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto
‘Mis en place’ is just a fancy Frenchie-term for getting all your prep’ in place. And that giant looking onion piece is actually a generous garlic bulb…
I know you already know how much I love a slow braise. It’s one of my favourite ways to cook (and eat!). Convenient really, since we’re in the middle of a cold snap here in Syders as I write this.
Generally, braising or slow cooking calls for a secondary cut of meat. That means it’s cheaper than the steaks and cutlets that make up the primary cuts that are so fashionable – and fast – to cook. So it’s definitely a way to make your food budget stretch a little further.
And, when you braise, the cuts you use are generally tougher. This means that they require a long, slow cook to break down some of the fibre in the meat BUT also that the flavour profile and meltingly tender texture is something that is worth waiting for.
“Without such a thing as fast food, there would be no need for slow food.” – Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
Braising is another way to get more gut-healing bone into your tummy, too. And, it’s really easy to up the vegetable quotient in a braise – you get all the flavour of the protein, but you can stretch your meals further again – both in terms of nutritional value and bang for your buck. Win~win!
We are pretty careful about buying happy meat here. And, while the environment the animal grows up in is important to me, here in Australia (and New Zealand), we don’t have the same concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) that you find in the States. I do like to make sure that the beef I eat comes from pasture raised animals.*
Beef contains the conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) compound, which has been shown by numerous studies to have health benefits. CLA levels in grass-fed cattle are 30-40% higher than in grain fed animals! So, if you want maximum health benefits you really should choose grass-fed beef!
So – here we are. My recipe for beef cheeks. It’s really tasty and autoimmune protocol friendly!
- 2 tablespoons fat of choice (I used coconut oil)
- 2 kilos (4.5 pounds) of happy beef cheeks (approximately)
- 1 rasher (strip) of bacon
- 1 large leek
- 3 large carrots
- 3 celery stalks
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 150 mls verjuice
- 200 mls filtered water
- 550 mls bone broth, preferably beef
- 3 anchovy fillets
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Freshly chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
- Heat your oven to 150°C/300°F. Wash, peel, slice and/or chop your leeks, carrots and celery. Roughly chop your bacon. Peel your garlic.
- Heat the fat in a large casserole (I use my le Creuset). Brown the beef cheeks in batches on a medium heat. Sear the cheeks for 3 – 4 minutes per side. Take the time to get a really nice crust on your meat. Remove the meat to a dish.
- Now, sweat the chopped vegetables and bacon for five minutes, stirring frequently. Add the verjuice and simmer for a couple of minutes before adding the water and bone broth. Add the anchovies, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, salt, and cinnamon.
- Carefully place the beef cheeks on top of the vegetables and allow the liquid to come to the boil.
- Pop the lid on your casserole and transfer the dish to the oven for 4½ – 5 hours, by which time the meat should be lovely and tender.
- When the cheeks are ready, remove the herbs and discard. Pop the cheeks into a heat proof dish to keep warm. (At this point, I like to shred the meat with two forks, but that’s entirely up to you.) Strain about half the liquid into a pot and bring to the boil, reducing slightly. Serve your beef cheeks on a bed of mash and spoon the sauce over the top.
- Sprinkle with parsley.
E N J O Y !
We served our cheeks on a bed of herbed parsnip and celeriac mash with caramelised onion.
*If you’re visiting Eveleigh Markets, do check out the Linga Longa stand. Greg – the farmer, himself! – is always there and happy to answer any questions.
Want to cook this recipe faster in a pressure cooker? This recipe has been adapted and printed in The Paleo AIP Instant Pot Cookbook.
This recipe also features in the Phoenix Helix Recipe Roundtable