Allyson Gofton - Cheeky Number

Publish Date
Friday, 12 August 2016, 3:15PM
By Allyson Gofton

The cheek of any animal that can be eaten will provide nourishing meat, though given the amount of work this muscle undertakes, without long slow cooking the meat will be tough. Slow cooked beef cheeks have a very rich, gelatinous texture and the meat will, for my thinking, be better served roughly torn or pulled   and accompanied with plenty of bread or potatoes to mop up the juices.

Braised Beef Cheek with Walnuts
Beef cheeks, which using "High St" speak are "on-trend", and are sensational for winter when marinated in wine and herbs, and slow cooked with walnuts and haricot beans until the meat falls into chunks. Serve plenty of mashed potatoes on the side or even warmed crusty bread to soak up the juices.

Prep Time:
30 minutes
Cooking Time:
4-5 hours

Beef and Marinade:
2 beef cheeks, well trimmed
1 cup gutsy red wine
1/2 onion, thickly sliced
1 carrot, chopped
3 cloves garic, crushed
Few peppercorns

1 cup dried haricot beans, soaked overnight in plenty of water
1 onion, peeled and finley diced
2 carrots, peeled and fonely diced
2 stalks celery, finley chopped - reserve leaves for garnish
3-4 rashers rindless streaky bacon, diced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon drued thyme
1 bayleaf
2-3 tablespoons red currant, port wine or quince jelly
1 cup walnut pieces
1 litre good beef stock

Beef and Marinade:

  1. Into a deep dish place the beef cheeks, red wine, onion, carrot, garlic and peppercorns. Turn the beef over to coat well in the wine. The beef should be submerged under the marinade ingredients. Refrigerate overnight. prepare the haricot beans at this stage too.


  1. Preheat the oven to 120 degrees Celsius.
  2. The next day remove the beef from the marinade and reserve the wine, discarding the vegetables. Heat a hearty knob of butter in a frying pan with a good dash of oil. Pat the beef dry on paper towels and brown the beef well on both sides. Transfer to a large casserole , preferably a shallow-sided large casserole.
  3. Add the onion, carrot and celery to the pan, adding a touch more oil if required. Cook the vegetables until they have browned well. add the bacon and cook until the fat runs. Stir in the thyme, bayleaf, red currant , port or quince jelly and half the walnuts and toss well in the fat. Stir in the reserved wine and bring to the boil. Simmer until the wine has reduced by half . Add the beef stock and bring to the boil before pouring over the beef in the casserole. Stir in the well-drained beans and cover.
  4. Transfer to the preheated oven and leave to cook for 4 hours before testing to see if the beef cheeks are tender and will pull apart easily. If not, continue to cook for a further 30 or so minutes before trying again. Once cooked lift the meat from the casserole and pull or shred the meat into decent size chunks, returning gently to the casserole. Serve large spoonfuls in bowls garnished with fresh celery leaves and the remaining walnuts.

Cooks Tips:

  • Two beef cheeks will usually serve four people, but add in plenty of dried beans and you can stretch two to feed 6-7 maybe even 8.
  • If you do not have beef cheeks, use thick-cut slices of cross cut blade, about 4 -5 slices will be sufficient here.

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