In this recipe, I show you how to make the most amazing beef cheeks slow-cooked with onions, carrots, a little port for sweetness and depth, and vanilla, which gives it a unique flavour twist. This stew-like dish is very nourishing, gluten-free, paleo and low-carb friendly. I think you will love it! Let me know the comments what you think of this recipe or if you cook it.
This rich and warming beef cheek stew is perfect for a special night in, especially with a glass of Shiraz or another heavy red wine. The meat is slow-cooked till it falls apart allowing the flavours to develop and infuse the broth. The recipe is not difficult but is best prepared on the weekend when you have plenty of time to supervise the braising process.
What Are Beef Cheeks?
The name ‘beef cheek’ refers to the facial cheek muscle of a cow. It’s a rather tough and lean cut of meat which requires slow cooking. But, it’s also a bit magical, because, given enough cooking time, it transforms into the most gorgeous, gelatinous, velvety, tender meat full of depth and flavour.
For this recipe, I used beef cheeks from one of my faves in Australia, Cape Grim Beef. It’s advisable to pre-order beef cheeks from your butcher. Otherwise, if you can’t find any cheeks, something like beef brisket or stewing steak can also be used.
My Recipe Twists
I used port instead of regular red wine because the darker fortified wines add much more depth to the dish, plus I wanted some sweetness to go with the vanilla.
This dish is a little sweet, but still relatively low in carbohydrates and sugar (for those counting their macros!), For each serving, you’ll be coming in at around 5-6 grams of sugar per person. Not too bad for something this magical.
How To Cook Beef Cheeks
There are three stages to cooking beef cheeks:
- Brown the meat in a frying pan for a minute on each side.
- Deglaze the pan with port and bring the cooking broth to simmer.
- Combine the beef cheeks with the broth and slow cook in the oven, in a slow cooker/crockpot or in a pressure cooker, such as Instant Pot. The oven method will take 3-4 hours and requires some looking after. The slow cooker method takes longer but is pretty hands-free and you can set it and forget it. The same with the Instant Pot, however, the pressure cooking will speed up the process considerably!
- If you use a slow cooker or the Instant Pot, I recommend finishing the stew in a hot oven for 20 minutes to let the meat brown and caramelise slightly. That’s when you add the carrots as well, so they don’t overcook.
You will find more details instructions below, including the nutritional breakdown for this dish.
More Hearty Stews You Might Like
- Gorgeous Lamb Coconut Curry
- Hearty Beef Stew
- Chorizo Beef Chili (Chili Con Carne)
- Moroccan Chicken Stew With Spinach
- Pisto (Spanish Vegetable Stew)
Slow-cooked to perfection, these beef cheeks are fall-apart tender and have a unique flavour with a hint of vanilla and sweetness of port. It’s a delicious stew-like dish the whole family will love.
- 4 beef cheeks (about 1.2 kg), cut in half, sinew removed (ask your butcher to do this)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil for frying
- 2/3 cup of port or fortified (Sherry can also be used)
- 1 tablespoon butter or ghee
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 4 large garlic cloves, roughly diced
- 4–5 cardamon pods or 1 star anise (optional)
- 1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar (red wine vinegar can also be used)
- 3 bay leaves
- 6 cloves (or 1/4 teaspoon of ground clove spice, cinnamon could also be used)
- 1–2 vanilla beans (depending on size), split (or 2 teaspoons vanilla essence)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1.5 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cups beef stock or bone broth (about 500 ml)
- 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
- Preheat the oven to 175 C / 345 F.
- Season the beef cheeks with salt and pepper. Heat a frying pan with oil over high heat, brown the cheeks on each side for about a minute and place in a heavy-based casserole dish.
- Deglaze the frying pan with port, then add the butter, onion, garlic, cardamon seeds or star anize, vinegar, bay leaves, cloves, vanilla beans, pepper, tomato paste, and beef stock. Mix through and bring to a simmer, then carefully pour over the beef cheeks in the casserole dish.
- Assemble the beef cheeks so they don’t overlap and the garlic and onion are distributed evenly. Cover with foil and place the casserole in the oven. Cook covered for around 2 hours 45 minutes, turning beef cheeks frequently, every 25 minutes.
- Then remove the foil, add the carrots and cook uncovered for another 1 hour. Make sure to keep turning the beef cheeks as they will start to brown and dry up on the top. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed but there should be loads given the beef stock will reduce.
- Serve with a side of greens sautéed in olive oil and garlic and some fresh green herbs on top.
Beef Cheeks Slow Cooker Recipe: repeat the first couple of steps and once the beef cheeks and the braising broth are assembled in the slow cooker, set it to 4 hours on HIGH, 6 hours on MEDIUM, 8 hours on LOW. I suggest to transfer the stew to a baking dish, add the carrots and finish it in a hot oven for 20 minutes to caramelise slightly.
Beef Cheeks Instant Pot method: Brown the beef cheeks on Saute function inside the pot; remove to a plate, the deglaze the pot and simmer the braising broth. Return the beef cheeks, stir through and press the lid on top. Set to HIGH pressure, manual and adjust to 45 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally. Add the carrots and finish the stew in a hot oven for 20 minutes to brown slightly.
- Serving Size: 6-7 oz / 200 g of meat
- Calories: 464
- Sugar: 6.1 g
- Sodium: 838.1 mg
- Fat: 22.7 g
- Saturated Fat: 11.2 g
- Carbohydrates: 11.4 g
- Fiber: 1.8 g
- Protein: 44.4 g
- Cholesterol: 130.1 mg