Sunday, 27 September 2015

Beef cheeks

I routinely wonder whether I am a fundamentally lazy person due to my penchant for cooking food that only needs one pot and that can be prepared hours even days in advance. Whilst I love to watch cooking shows like My Kitchen Rules, I realise I could never be a contestant as the three-hour prep time is about 24 hours too short for me.

I've never mastered the art of the pressure cooker either. I was about nine when I saw my mum take hers off the stove and unleash it before it had "de-pressurised" thereby coating every wall and surface of the kitchen with its contents. I think she made dad clean it up so I guess more power to her.

My favourite sort of cooking is like this beef cheeks recipe. Throw it all in and let time be the kitchen master. Or mistress. It's cheap too. Total cost for the beef cheeks was $10 and I think that was for about 1kg. The most expensive part was the red wine. Please don't skimp on the red wine. Please don't be one of those people who think that cooking wine is cheap wine. Think of it this way - you need 500 mls in this recipe so you want the rest to be something worth pouring into a glass and pouring down your throat.

You'll need your slow cooker for this. It's embarrassingly easy to make, just make sure you cook it a day before you need it. 

Feeds an army, or 6 people. 


Beef cheeks, about 1kg. I used five but forgot to weigh them.
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, sliced
1 carrot, diced - don't get all in a tizz about even sizing and what have you, it's all good
12 mushrooms, quartered
4 cloves of garlic (for 6 like I used...)
6-8 stems fresh thyme or 1 hefty teaspoon of dried thyme (I used dried)
4 bay leaves
1 cup beef stock
400g tin chopped tomatoes
500 mls or 2 cups of red wine - decent red people, not cask!
Salt & pepper


Cut away any visible fatty bits from the beef cheeks. Heat a heavy based pan. Season the cheeks with salt and pepper and fry them on both sides till lovely and brown. You may need a little oil but just see if the natural fats from the cheeks do the trick first. You can transfer them straight to the slow cooker when done. You want all those gorgeous juices. Trust me.

This the wine I used.
In the same pan, add the onion and garlic and swoosh it around for about 2 minutes then add the celery and carrot. Swoosh for another 2-3 minutes then tip all that into the slow cooker as well.

Now it becomes a big tipping game. In go the mushrooms, tinned tomatoes, thyme, bay leaves, beef stock and red wine. Tip tip tip. Be extravagant with your movements and say "daaaah-ling" to nobody in particular.

Cook on high for 3 hours, then pop it to low for another 3. If your weather is cool, like it is here in Wellington, you can then turn the whole lot off for the night and go to bed. Next day, pop it back on low and it's ready for dinner.

Serve with creamy mashed potatoes (don't forget the butter) and steamed green beans. Freeze what's left. You'll be glad you did.

Oh, and finish that bottle of red.