Beef Cheeks

3 tbsp olive oil

1.5 kg/3lb beef cheeks, (4 large or 6 small beef cheeks)

1 onion, roughly diced (about 1 cup)

1 celery stalk, roughly diced (about 1 cup)

1 carrot, roughly diced (about 3/4 cup)

4 garlic cloves, minced

6 stems of fresh thyme or 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves

4 dried bay leaves

1 cup / 250 ml beef stock

2 cups / 500 ml red wine (full bodied eg. cabernet sauvignon or merlot)

2 - 3 tsp salt,

Black pepper

Prepare the beef cheeks: cut off any large, fatty membrane. Pat dry then use 1 tsp of salt and black pepper to season the beef all over.

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large heavy based pan (or casserole dish with a lid if you are baking or pot if you are cooking on the stove) over high heat. Sear the beef cheeks on each side until nicely browned. If your pan is not large enough, work in batches rather than crowding the pan. Remove beef cheeks onto a plate, loosely cover with foil to keep warm.

Turn down the heat to medium-high and heat the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add garlic, onion and carrots. Sauté for 3 minutes until onion is becoming translucent, then add the celery and sauté for a further 3 minutes.

Follow directions for your chosen cooking method.

Slow Cooker Directions

Pour the onion mixture into the slow cooker and place the beef cheeks on top.

Pour the wine into the frying pan and return to heat. Turn the heat up to high, bring to simmer and let it simmer for 1 minute (to cook out the wine a bit). Scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan so it mixes in with the wine.

Pour the wine into the slow cooker, then all the remaining ingredients, starting with a pinch of salt and pepper (add more to taste later).

 

Cook in the slow cooker on Low for 8 hours or High for 6 hours for 250g/8oz size beef cheeks or Low for 10 - 12 hours or High for 8 hours for 350g/12oz beef cheeks.

Open the slow cooker and remove the beef cheeks. Discard the thyme stems and bay leaves.

Use a handheld stick blender to puree the braising liquid into a smooth Sauce - it will change from a dark brown to a lighter brown color. If using a slow cooker without a sauté setting, pour the Sauce into a saucepan. If you have a sauté setting, leave it in the slow cooker.

Put the saucepan over medium heat (or set the slow cooker to sauté setting) and bring to simmer.

Simmer until the Sauce turns a darker brown color and reduces by about 1/4 to 1/3, to a gravy consistency - about 10 minutes.

Do a taste test and adjust the seasoning (salt and pepper) to your taste.

Remove from heat, return beef cheeks to the Sauce, cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

Pressure Cooker Directions

Follow the Slow Cooker directions but cook on high in your pressure cooker for 1 hour on high for small cheeks (around 250g/8oz each).

Stovetop and Oven Directions

Pour the wine into the pot/casserole dish (with the onion mixture) and stir to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pot. Bring wine to simmer for 1 minute.

Add remaining ingredients, starting with a pinch of salt and pepper (add more to taste later).

 

Put lid on and cook on the stove on medium low for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or in the oven at 160C/320F for 3 to 3 1/2 hours until the cheeks are very tender. Turn at least once during cooking.

Open the pot/casserole dish and remove the beef cheeks. Discard the thyme stems and bay leaves.

Use a handheld stick blender to puree the braising liquid into a smooth Sauce - it will change from a dark brown to a lighter brown color.

Bring the Sauce to simmer over medium heat and simmer until it turns a darker brown color and reduces by about 1/4 to 1/3, to a gravy consistency - about 3 to 5 minutes.

Do a taste test and adjust the seasoning (salt and pepper) to your taste.

Remove from heat, return beef cheeks to the Sauce, cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Place potatoes in a large pot of salted boiling water and cook for 10 minutes until very soft.

Turn the stove off, drain potatoes, then return to the pot.

Add butter and milk and use a potato masher to mash until smooth.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Use more milk to adjust the consistency to your liking. I like it fairly loose because it seems creamier (and less potato goes further).

To Serve

Serve beef cheeks on Creamy Mashed Potatoes, drizzled with a generous amount of Sauce. Garnish with finely chopped parsley if desired.