These melt-in the mouth beef cheeks are just the thing to warm you up on a chilly winter night. They're excellent with mashed potatoes, celeriac mash or creamy polenta. It's a good idea to start making this dish the day before you plan to serve it.
- Prep Time : 45 minutes
- Cook Time : 4h 30 min
- Yield : 6
- beef cheeks - 6, trimmed of fat and sinew
- salt and freshly cracked pepper
- olive oil - 2 -3 tablespoons
- speck - 100g, rind and fat removed and cut into lardons
- eschalots - 20, peeled
- carrot - 1 large , diced
- celery - 1 stalk, diced
- garlic - 2 -3 cloves, crushed
- red wine (such as Cabernet Sauvignon) - 1 bottle
- beef stock - 750ml - 1L
- thyme - 2 sprigs
- bay leaf - 1 large, peeled
- rosemary - 1 sprig
- juniper berries - 6 (optional)
- softened butter - 1 tablespoon
- plain flour - 1 tablespoon
Preheat oven to 140C (120C fan-forced).
Pat the beef cheeks dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a heavy base casserole and brown the cheeks on both sides. Do this in batches, removing to a plate covered with paper towels. Set aside.
Add the speck lardons and eschalots to the pan. Turn up the heat and fry until the lardons are crispy and eschalots are browned all over. Turn down heat, add carrot, celery and garlic and cook until softened.
Return beef cheeks to the casserole. Pour in the wine, turn up heat and cook until wine has reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add the herbs and juniper berries, if using, and enough beef stock to cover the cheeks. Season with salt and pepper.
Cover the casserole with a lid. Place in pre-heated oven and cook for 4 - 4.5 hours, checking from time to time and adding more stock if needed.
Turn off heat and allow to cool - the cheeks should be almost falling apart. Place the casserole in the fridge overnight.
Next day, remove from fridge and skim off the fat. Remove the cheeks from the casserole and reduce the liquid over high heat. Thicken if necessary with the roux, made by mixing together the softened butter and flour. Simmer 5 minutes, then return the cheeks to the casserole and heat through.