There’s something impressive about meat that will cut effortlessly with a fork. Especially when it’s a delicious creamy beef cheek. It’s a really underrated cut of meat which is just perfect for slow stewing. This Italian stew leaves a rich, fragrant sauce after hours of cooking and is utterly fork-tender delicious. Today it rained. I’m down the NSW Coast so it was pretty miserable, grey and cold! This was perfect – cooking for so long, it warmed the house and filled the rooms with a tantalising aroma. When it was finally ready, I served each cheek atop of a smooth mound of creamy Parmigiana flavoured polenta to much applause.
3 tabelspoons olive oil
2 onions (finely chopped)
1 carrot (finely chopped)
2 celery sticks (finely chopped)
2 garlic cloves (chopped)
1 teaspoon crushed dried juniper berries
3 tablespoons fresh oregano (chopped)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon ground star anise
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 litre red wine
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 beef cheeks
Preheat oven to 150ºC
Heat a frying pan with half the oil and seal the beef cheeks for 3 minutes each side until browned. Set aside
Heat the remaining oil in a large ovenproof casserole pan over a moderate heat. Fry the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, juniper, oregano, bay leaf and star anise for 7 minutes until soft and rich brown. Add the tomato paste and stir for 1-2 minutes. Pour in the wine and add the beef cheeks. Bring to a boil then remove from the heat, cover the pan with a lid or some foil and cook in the oven for 3-4 hours until the meat is very tender, stirring occasionally.
Carefully remove the beef cheeks and bay leaf and blend the sauce with a hand blender into a thick, rich gravy. Return the beef cheeks to the pan. Serve immediately!
As I mentioned, I served mine with creamy, cheesy polenta, but it’s perfect with mashed potatoes, celeriac or cauliflower puree or even mix some of the sauce with a ribboned pasta such as pappardelle or tagliatelle.