What can I say? Beef cheeks are a challenging cut to prepare, but if you spend a little time trimming them up, pair them with fabulous Italian flavours and and give them a long, slow cooking time you will experience something out of this world.
This recipe uses a sofritto of carrot, onion and celery as its Italian flavour backbone . In fact, the sofritto is so highly regarded I’ve heard it called the holy trinity of Italian food. So make sure you don’t leave any of these three key ingredients out.
I began cooking this slow braised goodness on Friday night and it spent its first 18 hours doing its thing in a slow cooker with a ceramic dish. I think ceramic doesn’t allow the full caramelisation to happen and therefore the flavour tends to be lacking when done from whoa to go, so I transferred it to a cast iron pan for the last 6 hours and popped it in the oven at 120C. Although not absolutely necessary, I think this step just topped off the flavours, texture and richness of the sauce.
The main thing to remember is this doesn’t take long to prepare and it’s a beautiful set-and-forget winter meal. I always make too much so there’s some left over to freeze for later. This time I plan on making yummy pies from the leftovers.
Whatever you choose to do, just enjoy with some creamy polenta or mashed potato and a glass of good quality red wine.
If you don’t have 24 hours to cook this you could do it in 6-8, but beef cheeks aren’t very good unless they’re cooing with tenderness, so check them before you tuck in. They should fall apart with a gentle prod with a spoon.