Slow-Braised Beef Cheeks

Slow-Braised Beef Cheeks
Serves 4

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 lb beef cheeks, excess fat and sinew trimmed
1 Spanish onion, peeled and quartered
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
2 celery stalks, ends trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups red wine
4 cups reduced sodium beef or veal stock
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp liquid honey
2 tbsp unsalted butter
salt and pepper

Steps:

Set the beef cheeks on the counter 30 minutes before you start to cook. Pat the cheeks dry with paper towel and season them liberally with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, prep onion, carrot, celery and garlic.

Heat the ¼ cup olive oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven or large heavy bottomed pot to high. Just before the oil starts to smoke, sear the beef cheeks in batches until browned on all sides, about 15 minutes total. Set aside on a separate plate.

Add the onion, carrot and celery and reduce heat to medium. Stir occasionally for 5-8 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften.

Meanwhile, if you’re using a Dutch oven, preheat the oven to 275F with the rack in the lower third of the oven. Disregard this step if using a large pot not suited for the oven.

Once the vegetables are soft, add the garlic and stir for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and stir for another 2 minutes to cook off any of the raw flavor.

Pour in a ½ cup of the red wine. It will begin to bubble. Once bubbling, use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits leftover from searing the meat. Add the remaining wine, beef/veal stock, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf and the beef cheeks. Season with salt and pepper.

Turn heat up to high until the entire mixture comes up to a boil. If using a Dutch oven, cover tightly with a lid and move to the oven. If using a pot not suited for the oven, reduce the heat to a very low simmer and cover. Slowly cook the cheeks, turning occasionally, until tender, about 3 hours. *This can and should be done the day before if possible.

Move the cheeks to a separate dish with at least 2-inch sides.

Strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a medium sized pot. Ladle 1 cup of the liquid over the cheeks and tightly cover with foil to keep them moist.

Place the remaining braising liquid in the fridge overnight or until the fat solidifies at the top. Spoon off any residual fat.

One hour before serving preheat the oven to 300F. Place the cheeks back into the oven covered with tin foil to thoroughly heat.

Meanwhile on the stove bring the braising liquid to a boil. Whisk in the balsamic and honey. Reduce the heat to a rapid simmer and continue to cook until the liquid is reduced to almost ½ cup and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Serve the beef cheeks on polenta, mashed potatoes or risotto with a spoonful of the balsamic braising liquid.

Amanda Garbutt, host and co-producer, and April Engelberg, creator and co-producer are thrilled to be able to share recipes from their online cooking show The Hot Plate (www.thehotplate.net) to help inspire culinary confidence.


Complementary Wines: Rioja, Ripasso

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