Beef cheeks are the cheek muscle on cattle’s jaw. This cut of meat is not tender and benefits from being cooked long and slow to achieve a melt in your mouth experience. It is an ideal winter meal as is very warming. We enjoy this recipe made with mashed potatoes however they may also be prepared with mashed parsnip or with polenta. And some like fresh steamed beans on the side, but this comes down to personal choice.
Trim the beef cheeks to remove the outer white layer of covering skin/fat. Then make a mix of flour, small amount of salt and generous amount of pepper. Dust each cheek in this mix. Then heat up a pan on stove, add small amount of rice bran oil and bring to high heat. Put each cheek into this separately, and cook until outside of each cheek is browned. This process is not to cook the cheek through, it’s just to seal the meat. Then remove cheeks onto plate to rest. Cover loosely with foil.
Then turn heat down to medium heat, and add chopped onion, celery, carrots and garlic, and cook gently for 5 minutes, stirring often so that they don’t stick or burn. Select your chosen cooking method – either slow cooker or pressure cooker.
To the base of the pressure/slow cooker add the gently cooked onion mixture. Then place the beef cheeks on top. To the pan add the wine, the beef stock and the can of tomatoes, stir through for 2 minutes, to gently heat, and also to collect any small bits of onion mix left behind. Then pour this mixture over the beef cheeks and onion mix in the pressure/slow cooker. Add the Bay Leaves, the thyme, and salt and pepper to season.
Then cook in the slow cooker on Low for 8 hours or High for 6 hours (for 250g size beef cheeks), or Low for 10 – 12 hours or High for 8 hours (for 350g size beef cheeks). If Using a Pressure cooker, seal, then set on high, and bring to heat over gas until boiling, then reduce heat until simmering and cook for a minimum of 45 minutes. Please be guided for cooking time by your individual pressure/slow cooker directions.
At completion of the cooking time, the slow/pressure cooker should be opened. Take out and discard the bay leaves, and the stems of the thyme. The beef cheeks can be gently removed from the sauce. Some may choose to leave this sauce chunky, but others may like to blitz it using a handheld stick blender to puree it until smooth. This is personal choice. Also the thickness is personal choice. If wanting to reduce it, then gently heat it to a simmer for about 10 minutes until it is reduced by 1/3 to ½, and gravy consistency. At this point, taste, and add a little more salt/pepper if desired.
Meanwhile for the Mashed potato, cook the potatoes in a pot of boiling salted water until soft. Then drain and add the butter and milk and mash using potato masher until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Some like to add a little more milk to make it creamier, and this is personal choice. Serve the mashed potato on the base with the beef cheeks on the top and the sauce drizzled over generously. Can top with a little chopped fresh parsley if desired. This is a beautiful dish enjoyed with a nice glass of red wine.