So, Sabrina and I were walking the aisles of Wal*Mart, as we do ever so occasionally, and I discovered a package of some rather nice looking beef cheeks. I practically DEMANDED that she cook with them, and she reluctantly took the task upon herself to give them a try. I was STUNNED at how delicious they were, and she artfully prepared them in a delectable, French fashion. Do not fear the beef cheek, for it holds magical culinary power! If you have little to no access to beef cheeks, I understand. You can substitute beef chuck instead. ; )
Let's put together the marinade for the beef.
- 4 lbs beef cheeks, trimmed (Or use chuck shoulder)
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 - 750ml bottle red wine (She used Malbec)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 large white onion, chopped
- 1 rib celery, chopped
- 1 whole clove
Remember when working with beef cheeks, they need a LOT of trimming. Sabrina took off about ⅓ of the overall weight, just getting rid of excess fat and silver skin. It's worth it for the finished product. Place beef cheeks into dish or zip top bag, and place remaining ingredients over the top and mix together and cover (or seal). Marinade for at least a day, for best results.
Time to sear the meat and braise.
- kosher salt and pepper
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 calf's foot (she used 2 lbs beef "soup" bones)
- 2 Tbls tomato paste
- 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed and quartered
- 5 oz. applewood bacon, (about 5 thick slices) diced
- 20 pearl red onions, peeled and halved
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
- 2 Tbls minced fresh parsley, for garnish
Preheat oven to 325º
In a large dutch oven, over medium heat, render the bacon until it's lightly browned, not fully cooked. Reserve bacon to a paper-lined plate and let rest. Take the cheeks out of the marinade, and pat dry with a paper towel. Reserve the marinade for later addition to the pot. Salt and pepper the meat, and sear the beef cheeks in the bacon fat, until nicely browned on both sides, about 4 min per side. Reserve to a plate and loosely cover.
Toss beef bones in 2 Tbls tomato paste, and brown them in the same pan, on all sides. Add a little olive oil if necessary. Deglaze with beef stock, and bring to a simmer. Add reserved beef cheeks and reserved marinade, and bring back to a boil, for 5 min. Cover and place in 325º oven, for 4 hours. Reserve meat to a dish, and cover to keep warm. Skim off the fat, strain the broth and set aside.
Place reserved bacon in a skillet over medium heat, and finish cooking the bacon until crispy. Reserve bacon, and add pearl onions to the bacon fat. Brown onions until tender, about 3-5 min. Reserve onions to a plate, and keep warm. Add carrots to the skillet, adding a little olive oil as needed, and cook until brown and tender. Reserve the carrots to the plate, and repeat same process with the mushroom. Reserve mushrooms to the plate, and deglaze the pan with the meat broth. Bring to a simmer, and reduce slightly. Add cooked veggies, crispy bacon and meat to the broth, and heat through. Serve over mashed potatoes and garnish with chopped parsley.