Gettin’ Cheeky with Beef – And in a Slow Cooker, No Less

Guance di Manzo Brasato

Let me say from the onset that this is not a Bartolini family recipe. In fact, I can say with some certainty — feel free to back me up, Zia — that beef cheeks never graced a Bartolini dinner table. This all changed the last weekend of last October. That was the weekend the vendor with certified organic meats returned to the farmers market.

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Beef Cheeks 1*     *     *

You may recall that I had been waiting for him to return because he sold goat and, even though I’d found some at a nearby market, I prefer to buy organic when its available. As it is, I buy chickens from him all Summer long. It had been weeks since he last set up his stall and I was, frankly, surprised to see him. The following weekend was to be the market’s last for the year and I thought him gone until 2014.

His stall, for lack of a better word, is a set of folding tables arranged in a “U” shape. On them he’s places about 6 ice chests in which he keeps the week’s frozen inventory. That week there wasn’t any goat meat but I was surprised to find a package labeled “beef cheeks.” I bought it, along with a chicken, and placed both in the freezer when I returned home.

Well, as this Winter unfolded, I exhausted my repertoire of comfort foods. Last week’s tuna noodle casserole was proof that I’d run out of options. It was about that time that I remembered that there were beef cheeks in the freezer, though they had somehow managed to work their way to a back corner. Another Sunday braise was suddenly in the offing.

Although still below freezing, that Sunday turned out to be the warmest day of the month to date. Since there was no real need to heat the kitchen, I switched gears a bit and opted for using the slow cooker rather than the Dutch oven. Best of all, with a fridge well-stocked with braising vegetables, there would be no last-minute trip to the grocery that morning — until I realized that I’d need side dishes. Curses!

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This braise is like most, with one minor exception. I started by making a form of battuto, an Italian soffrito. In our part of Italy, a battuto consists of finely diced onion, parsley, garlic, and salt pork. Battuto is the first thing into the pan, after the olive oil is heated, and will flavor the dish as its aroma fills your kitchen. Here, I made my battuto with guanciale, parsley, and garlic. (Yes, this recipe mixes the cheeks of both pork and beef. Shocking!) The onions were added with the other braising vegetables, once the battuto was cooked. The rest of the recipe is easy enough to follow and you should have no problems.

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Beef Cheeks Braising*     *     *

Braised Beef Cheeks Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 beef cheeks, approximately 1.2 lbs (540 g)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 oz guanciale, chopped – pancetta or bacon may be substituted
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 c parsley, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, leaves included, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3/4 c red wine
  • 3/4 c Madeira
  • 1.5 c beef stock
  • salt and pepper
  • lemon zest

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Battuto*     *     *

Directions

  1. Combine chopped guanciale, parsley, and garlic on your cutting board and chop them together until uniform. This is the battuto.
  2. Warm oil in a sauté pan over med-high heat. Add the battuto and sauté until the guanciale’s fat is rendered, about 5 – 7 minutes. Do not allow to burn.
  3. Add onion, carrots, and celery to the pan and sauté until the onion is translucent.
  4. Add the rosemary and thyme to the pan. Continue sautéing until both begin to wilt.
  5. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pan’s contents and place all into the slow cooker. Do not drain the oil.
  6. Season beef cheeks with salt and pepper before placing into the hot pan. Turn when brown, about 5 minutes. Remove when both sides have been browned. Place into the slow cooker atop the other ingredients.
  7. Add the tomato paste to the pan and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  8. Use wine to deglaze the pan.
  9. Add the Madeira and beef stock and bring to a boil to burn off the alcohol.
  10. Add the liquid to the slow cooker. (See Notes)
  11. Cook on high for one hour before reducing to low for another 6 hours. Turn over the meat occasionally, about once every 90 minutes, or so. (See Notes)
  12. Remove meat and cover while the liquids are strained and the sauce prepared. (See Notes)
  13. Just before serving, garnish with a bit of lemon zest.

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Beef Cheeks 2*     *     *

Sides

As pictured, there were 2 sides served, neither of which is complicated nor difficult to prepare.

  • Mashed Potatoes and Parsnips with Roasted Garlic:Parsnip-Potato Mash
      Prepare mashed potatoes as you would normally, substituting 1/3 of the potatoes with peeled, chopped parsnips. Once boiled and drained, mash before adding warmed heavy cream into which butter and roasted garlic cloves have been added. Serve.
  • Sautéed Broccoli Rab (Rapini) with Pancetta and Garlic:Rapini with Pancetta
      Sauté chopped pancetta in a bit of olive oil to render its fat and until it’s not quite fully cooked. Add garlic and, after about a minute, add the broccoli rab, season with salt & pepper, and sauté until cooked to your satisfaction. Serve.

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Notes

The braising liquid should not be so deep that the meat is totally submerged like you would do for a stew or soup. When using a slow cooker. the liquid should come about half-way up the side of the beef cheeks. When using a Dutch oven, I use enough liquid so that it comes up 2/3 of the side of the protein to allow for evaporation. Use more or less liquid to arrive at the recommended level. Just maintain the same ratio of the braising liquid’s ingredients: 2 parts beef stock to 1 part each of Madeira and red wine.

A slow cooker works by applying a low, even temperature over a long period of time. Do not uncover the cooker unless necessary or you’ll run the risk of extending the cooking time.

Parsnips are a bit more firm than potatoes. When preparing them, chop the parsnips in pieces that are slightly smaller than the potatoes to insure that all will finish cooking at the same time.

Once you’ve strained the liquids and removed the fat, you can:

  • serve the sauce as-is;
  • reduce it and serve; or,
  • use a thickening agent — flour, corn starch, or arrowroot — to make gravy.

No matter how you finish the sauce, be sure to taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.

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When blogs collide

On the very day that I was cooking my beef cheeks, Phil, of “Food, Frankly“, posted his recipes for preparing an ox cheeks dinner. Do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to check out the delicious meal that he prepared.

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And finally

In the Comments for last week’s post, my Cousin mentioned that there’s a recall of beef that was processed by a California company and sold across the US. Though the beef I purchased was locally grown and processed, that is hardly the case everywhere. You can read about the recall and the reasons behind it in this USDA News Release, dated February 18th, 2014.

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It’s déjà vu all over again …

Tricolor Risotto 4It won’t be long now before we are once again celebrating St. Joseph’s Feast Day. Today’s look back will show you how to prepare a risotto of 3 colors, each of which, not so coincidentally, corresponds to one of the colors of the Italian flag. You needn’t be Italian to make this expression of Italian pride and you can learn how to do it by clicking HERE.

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Coming soon to a monitor near you …

Chocolate Torte Preview 2 Gluten-Free Chocolate Torte

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170 thoughts on “Gettin’ Cheeky with Beef – And in a Slow Cooker, No Less

  1. Your beef looks delightful and must be very tender. I just had a delicious piece of 60 hr slow cooked beef at an Italian restaurant here in Germany last weekend when Thomas and I went out for a belated Valentine’s Day celebration. I dare say if I ever attempt to try slow cooked beef at home 6 hours in a slow cooker will definitely be my choice over 2 1/2 days of cooking!

  2. Now I’m hungry… I can almost feel the taste of slow cooked beef in my mouth. I love the side dishes!!
    But tell me: the broccoli rab, is that what would be called rape/cime di rape in Puglia or broccolletti in Lazio? Maybe Zia knows (I’m interested in terminology AND how far vegetables travel…)? :-D

    • I had to do some checking but you’re right. Broccoli rab is also called broccolletti in Lazio and cime de rape. It’s also called rapini. I don’t care what it’s called, I think it’s delicious! :)

      • Thank you!! I LOVE cime di rapa, delicious with pasta (orecchiette, obviously), and “stufate” as a side dish.
        I knew it’s cultivated in some areas in the US, but I didn’t know its name. Now I am a little wiser thanks to you! :-)

  3. Pingback: Gettin’ Cheeky with Beef – And in a Slow Cooker, No Less | Food | Recipe Flash | Your all in one Recipe and Cooking News website

  4. I don’t think I’ve ever cooked beef cheeks – probably because I’ve never seen them or hunted them down (metaphorically speaking of course, there aren’t many wild cows either Up Our Mountain or running along our beach Down by the Sea!). My mum makes pork cheeks in a similar way and the method you use is very much the way I cook oxtail. So….I love this recipe and am off to hunt me down a cheeky cow!

    • Beef cheeks aren’t so easy to find here either, Tanya. They usually have to be special ordered and I was really surprised to see that the vendor at the farmers market had some. His cheeks were really nice, too. Not a bit of fat. That must explain why he’s so popular. :)

  5. I love beef cheeks too and normally braise them with a similar combination of vegetables and bacon. My butcher had signs up for beef cheeks and ox cheeks but when I asked which were better he told me they were the same ;-)

  6. This looks amazing, and I love that it’s a slow cooker recipe. I will have to figure out what beef cheeks are called in Turkish. (Or since my butcher has a little toy bull on his counter that Kaya accosts regularly, perhaps I could show him what I mean!)

    • Even when you learn the name, you may not find them so easily. Here, I have to special order them, unless my farmers market vendor has them. Once they’re featured on a cooking show, everybody buys them, the price goes up, and they become scarce. I hope you can find them. They’re delicious!
      Kaya would love my butcher. Open the door to his shop and a cow moos. Kids his age giggle whenever someone enters.

    • Thanks, Silva. Cheeks were an inexpensive meat here, too. Now, though, they’ve been “discovered” and the restaurants are buying most of them. If I cannot get them at the farmers market, I have to order them from my butcher. They are no longer inexpensive like before.

  7. So very much looking forward to our cooler evenings to come, where the aromas of casseroles, soups and braises (just like this one) will fill the kitchen once more! Such a delicious looking dish John!

    • Thanks, Margot. I really do know what you mean, though, if I’m going to be totally honest, I cannot wait for a morning when I can open the windows and let some fresh air into my home. This winter seems interminable, even by Chicago standards.

  8. Great John – I actually have some left in the freezer (in fact I bought all the butcher had on display knowing how hard it is to come by) and fancy preparing it again having seen this. Thanks for the link, very kind of you, and the term ‘battuto’ – you learn something every day!

    • You’re very welcome, Phil. I couldn’t believe the coincidence. It’s not like there are hundreds of beef cheek posts. I thought you did a great job with your cheeks, too, and that celeriac mash sounded like the perfect side. All in all, you presented a great looking dish and I was happy to share it.

  9. Another excellent meal. Cooked in a slow cooker makes it ideal. I can imagine the ingredients you use having the house filled with wonderful flavors. I must admit I’ve never heard of beef cheeks but that’s why I keep coming to your blog. I learn so much about cooking.

    BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!

    • Thanks, Dave, this has been the Winter for comfort foods — and snowblowers, rock salt, etc. Luckily, it’s been pretty much uneventful around here and I hope you can say the same. This is not the time for furnace problems or power failures. C’mon Spring!

  10. This looks wonderful. The slow cooker is a great way to braise. I might have to check for beef cheek at the farmer’s market now. The sides look very tasty too, I love broccoli rab.

    • Thank you. That one vendor was full of surprises last Summer. First he had goat and then beef cheeks. As I mentioned in the post, I aways bought chicken from him but never did I take a look at the contents of the other coolers. Not anymore. Now I’ll check them all every time I see him.Who knows what other gems he’ll have hidden there?

      • Always good treasures at your local farmer’s market! I dream of my husband finishing his garage and moving all the tools out of my attached garage. Then I will have room for a deep freezer. THEN maybe I could finally look I to getting a full side of organic beef.

  11. I don’t think I ever had beef cheeks, although I ate a pig’s head in France a couple of times actually, it was interesting, but very heavy. Not sure I would order it again.

    now your dish seems absolutely perfect to me!

    • Thanks, Sally. I do hope you can find some beef cheeks. Just cook them low and slow and you’ll be in for a real treat. Pig’s head? I’ve eaten many things but I think I’d pass on pig’s head. Head cheese, yes. Head, no. :)

  12. Comfort food indeed – Looks fantastic! I think I can smell it now :) You’re such a rebel too…beef and pork, lol! I bet that touch of pork added another layer of flavor perfectly.

    • Thanks, Nancy. Yes, “Rebel” just happens to be my middle name. :)
      One of the great things about starting dishes with a battuto is the flavors it brings to the dish. Better still, though, is how the aroma fills your kitchen. Mmmm

  13. I’ll have to add beef cheeks to my list. Our local co-op has ground goat so I’m thinking of giving that a go. It’s local and none of the junk in it which is good. I’m with you on waiting for winter to pass and get out of the comfort food. Though this is very good comfort food!

  14. Hello John, JT would love this dish, it’s exactly the type of food he orders when we dine out (except that yours would be better of course), I bet the meat was so succulent and tender. Tell me, is organic expensive in your parts? It’s ridiculous here; a couple of years ago I overheard a butcher tell a guy that his four organic chicken breasts were $60! The supermarkets have begun to sell “free from” and “humane” here which is much more affordable.
    Will you be posting pictures of your renovations? Temperatures are plummeting again, I’m looking forward to when the winter is over. At least our city thinks it’ll be soon, we just received notice that garden waste pickup will commence in three weeks! Have a great week.

    • Thanks for the vote of confidence, Eva. :)
      Most things bought at the farmers markets here in town are more expensive than in the groceries — unless it at peak season, like corn or strawberries or asparagus. The organic produce and meats are even more expensive. Still, I don’t find them ridiculously expensive. The organic chickens I buy are about $10 to $12.00. Those chicken breasts, at $60, were more than what we pay for veal ($17.00/lb).
      Sorry for th misunderstanding, Eva, but I’m not suffering through renovations. I am working on a couple projects here at home, though. This Winter just won’t quit! Tomorrow, Thursday, is supposed to be the worst of this cold spell and I hope it’s the last we see of temps this cold until 2015, if then. The snow blanket is still so thick here, and with my home facing West, I doubt all of the snow will be gone in 3 weeks unless we have some really warm weather — and that will mean flooding. It’s a Catch 22 of the worst kind. I hope yours is a good week, too!

  15. Buono Sera John! Love the slow cooked made with love beef cheeks. Starting with an Italian saffrito makes everything taste delicious. I bet it was super tender and love that mash on the side. This is some comfort food…Sending some warm thoughts your way. Take Care, BAM

    • Buongiorno, BAM! This was a good meal and the slow cooker did a great job. I think I’ll cook all future cheeks in it. If it ain’t broke … :)
      If only you could send us a little warmth. We sure could use it. We’re in single digits right now and aren’t supposed to get any warmer all day today. Brrrr. I think I can speak for many when I say Spring will not get here soon enough.

    • You’ve beef cheeks in your freezer? I am soo jealous, Maria. They’re not easy to find here. My freezer is pretty full right now but I’d make room. No matter what you use to create your braising liquid, just be sure to cook the cheeks low and slow. You’ll have a wonderful dinner that night. :)

  16. I can almost smell the slow cooking beef now! It’s such a comforting smell and warmth to come home to. This sounds really good John. You know I don’t often crave meat, but you’re making me salivate today! Glad you mentioned about using parsnips in the mashed potatoes. I have quite a few of those on hand. :)

    • Thanks, Kristy, but I feel like I’m the Pied Piper of Carnivores, trying to lure you back to the fold. I actually give you guys credit for making the changes to your diets. You’re both looking great! At least you’ll enjoy the mash — and next week’s cake is a good one. Plenty of chocolate with that one.

      • LOL – I like that, “the Pied Piper of Carnivores.” I made the mash that evening and the kids and I gobbled it up. :) I also made sticky garlic chicken wings and ate them. (Mike wasn’t home.) I just can’t stick to the vegan thing like he does. I’d say I’m 4 out of 7 days without meat. Mike is more like 6 out of 7. It amazes me. Thanks again for the parsnip mash recipe!

  17. So, cheek this out ! I’d follow this man anywhere. Right to my slow cooker, in fact. Timing is everything, bring on the beef. Thanks for the introduction to this “new” food. Toni

    DE GUSTIBUS in the NYT
    A Taste You Hate? Just Wait!
    FRANK BRUNI
    Published: Feb. 24, 2014
    Are there really foods that we don’t like, or just foods that we haven’t liked yet?

    • If you’ve not tried beef cheeks, you will love them. When cooked nice and slowly, they are just as tender as can be. Thank you for sending me to that article. What a great read! I’ve an adventurous palate, though I draw the line at insects. I don’t care how tasty they might be, I just don’t want any.

  18. I love everything that you make John. Ah, slow cooked beef… the sides sound delicious too, particularly that creamy potato with parsnips and lots of butter. Yum! We’re not really eating comfort foods here in the heat but I’ll be saving this up for the colder months. Love the extra cooking notes that you’ve added in. Really helpful!

    • Thank you, Laura. I’m glad you like the post and found it helpful. Yes, this is not the time for comfort foods Down Under. I cannot wait until I can say the same about this hemisphere. We’re all more than willing to send Old Man Winter packing. He’s been a terrible guest this year. :)

  19. Oh, the beef looks so good and I bet very tender, but unfortunately, I can’t have any. This is torture! At least you posted some side dishes. I would go for the sides. They looks delicious and oh, the dessert! Can’t wait for the post. :)

  20. I love beef cheeks, but have never cooked them (I almost never see them at my usual markets). And I’ve never had a mixed cheek dish! Love your battuto — I’m so going to start using parsley like this. This is a great, simple dish. And a wonderful way to use my slow cooker, which I neglect far too much. Thanks for this.

    • Thanks, John. You’re as kind and supportive in your comments as ever. I’ve not seen beef cheeks anywhere but in that vendor’s ice chest. If I want them, I have to special order them. The vendor’s cheeks, though, were very nice. They required no trimming at all. I’ll definitely buy more from him – if and when he has them.

  21. I love everything about this post, and although I have never tasted, much less cooked, beef cheeks, I can tell that I would really enjoy this dish and the sides. I’ll have a slice of that chocolate torte, too, please! :)

    • If you like beef, Betsy, you;ll love these cheeks. When cooked slowly and at a low temperature, they become succulent and so very tender. They’re the perfect meat for a braise and will give you a very special meal. And that torte would make a great dessert. I know because while those cheeks were in the slow cooker, that torte was in the oven. Mmmmm :)

  22. Great straightforward recipe, John! So far I haven’t prepared beef (or any other) cheek, as recipes usually include trimming, brining, parboiling and what not. Love the battuto as well as the sides.

    • Thanks, Stefan. I thought the battuto might catch your eye. :)
      I was really surprised with the condition these cheeks were in. They needed absolutely no trimming whatsoever. Not only was this vendor’s meat very flavorful, it was very well-butchered. I’m looking forward to the market’s reopening in May so that I can see what else I’ve been missing in his ice chests.

    • Thank you, Ronit. That bit of citrus zest — I’ve used lemon or orange — really works wonders. It adds a pop, a flavor accent, that you just don’t expect.
      “Big Night” was such a great movie. What a feast!

  23. I have never prepared any type of cheek! Your recipe ingredients look flavorful – and the cooking process straightforward and reliable. :-) I will have to give this a try… once you reveal your flourless/GF chocolate torte recipe! Love the photos, as well, John!

    • Thank you. Beef cheeks are just what the name says: the cheeks of the steer. Rump roasts come from the upper portion of the steer’s hind legs. The cheeks are a tougher cut than, say, the loin. That’s why braising works so well. It turns this tough cut into a succulent, tender piece of meat. I cannot speak for your area but here, in Chicago, I cannot find them at my grocer’s or butcher. I have to special order them. However, I was surprised to find a vendor at the farmers market that had them. Now I have to see if he has them regularly, or, was I just lucky that day.
      I hope this answers your question. :)

    • I’ve seen the reports. It seems that our weather is going bonkers. Yes, there’s a drought in California but the last thing needed is drenching rains. Here, we’re having yet another “Polar Vortex”. Either weather condition screams for comfort food. Beef cheeks is a great way to go! Good luck during the storms, Arlene.

  24. Yes, that looks tasty. I smiled, noticing the carrots and celery in the ingredient list, as they both found their way into my rendition of your quail recipe yesterday. Looking forward to tonight’s leftovers!

    • Thank you so much. I can’t tell you how pleased I was to see that you tried the quail recipe — more so that you made it your own. I always use carrots and celery in a braise. The sauce/gravy would be pretty bland without them. :)

  25. I predict a run on beef cheeks… I must get in and place an order because both your and Phil’s versions look divine, and it’s almost that time of year here, which augurs well for an improvement in your weather… well, hopefully, anyway. I must also make an effort to find Madeira, which I have an onion gravy recipe that calls for it as an ingredient. The torte looks wonderful. So many good things to look forward to :)

    • Thank you, EllaDee. I am so thankful for that farmer and his ice boxes filled with his own meats. Everything I’ve purchased has been of the best quality and nicely butchered. I was just getting to know him when he disappeared for a number of weeks last year. This Summer, though, I’m going to get to know him much better. He’ll remember me. I park near his “spot” and Max always announces our arrival by crying and howling in the car. He’s in love with the crossing guard and will not settle until she comes to say hello. Everyone at that end of the market knows Max. They don’t recognize me at all. :)

  26. I can smell the aromas from this dish. I haven’t had beef cheeks since my mother made them & I’ve been trying to remember how she did them – couldn’t have been with the crock pot because that hadn’t been invented yet. It had to have been in the oven. And by the way, those mashed potatoes with the gravy – perfect!

    • Thanks, Diane. Too bad you don’t have your Mother’s recipe. I’d love to see it – even prepare it. You can easily prepare these in the oven. Just be sure to add a little more liquid to account for evaporation and cut the cooking time to about 2.5 to 3 hours. You’re in for a real treat!

  27. Absolutely love slow cooked beef and this one sounds wonderful John. Sounded like you were describing a little vendor we have here at our local market selling organic, free range meats. Same “U” shape set up with ice chests and all. It’s wonderful to get your meat this way and it really should be the only way!

    • As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing like braised beef. It’s so succulent prepared that way! You’re right, too, about buying meat from local producers. You should have seen how nicely butchered and prepared these cheeks were. I’ll be his customer for life now. I just wish I’d remembered to photograph them when I first unwrapped them. Oops! :)

  28. Mmm delicious, I bet the kitchen tasted good while this was cooking. I’m a huge fan of slow braised meat, especially beef cheeks! I have a supplier, (tables at the farmer’s market with ice chests on top) who sells them. He uses the student butchers at the local college for his meat, that way he can be sure he’s getting back the beasts he has farmed. The only problem is the cheeks are often very roughly trimmed and it’s such a job to get rid of all the attached unwanted tissue, it puts me off buying them.

    • Thank you. The one problem I have using my slow cooker is that I’m usually home all day, especially when it’s as cold as it’s been. All’s well for the first few hours but then the food’s aroma starts to fill the kitchen and then the adjacent rooms. That last hour is really tough! :)
      I just mentioned in my last reply how nicely trimmed these cheeks were. They needed no further trimming whatsoever. I was really impressed — and very relieved. I’ll definitely be looking for more once the market opens in May.

  29. I don’t eat beef anymore John, but my husband would love an invitation for this dish and any others for that matter! Beef cheeks seem to be all over every menu out there so you are following the trend. Not that that matters, but so hip you are with this post!

    • Thanks, Abbe. I cannot find cheeks around here. I have to special order them. I don’t know how often this vendor has them in stock but I’m going to find out. They really do make a fantastic meal. If your husband ever hits Chi-town … :)

  30. iI always add red wine braised in cooking (Barolo) have you ever tried it?
    o al brasato aggiungo sempre vino rosso nella cottura ( Barolo) hai mai provato
    un saluto affettuoso e felice notte

  31. This looks and sounds so delicious, and thanks for the side dishes ideas.
    I didn’t look at your link about the beef recall…I heard about it on the radio today, the reason they recalled and closed the plant. Yuk!! It truly makes me think of going vegetarian.

    • Thanks, Angeline. I rarely include side dishes but these were quite good but so easy to prepare that they didn’t warrant separate posts. I’m glad you liked them. It really is up to us to become aware of where are food is coming from. I try to buy local whenever I can, though it’s nowhere near 100%. Maybe some day it will be possible but not yet.

  32. Beef cheeks have become so popular Down Under that I do wonder when we are going to ‘run out’ :) ! I don’t have a slow cooker but make them in a heavy casserole in a variety of ways [even using Asian ingredients :) !] and have managed some soft and tasty dishes. Love your recipe: I normally fasttrack and begin with an ordinary soffrito: have to try your way and remember the madeira! And give me broccoli rabe any day :) !

    • Thanks, Eha. I really did plan to use my heavy casserole (Dutch oven) but the day was warmer than I thought it would be and there was no need to start up the oven. Besides, it freed up my oven so that I could bake a cake — a real rarity. I am not a baker by any definition. I’ve yet to see beef cheeks at any grocery or butcher shop. I’ve always had to special order them. Now that the cooking shows have discovered them, it will be interesting to see if they start to appear in the shops and whether the price rises. I think I’ll stick with my vendor. He’s local and the meat was properly butchered and trimmed. He’s definitely earned my support.

  33. Tender meat, low availability, only can get them from a real butcher shop, by reserving it, as it is with beef tongue. You have prepared it in perfection. My mouth is watering just looking at it covered with the fabulous sauce. The sides are perfect too!

    • Thank you, Fae for you nice compliments. In the past, I’ve always special ordered them because I never see them at any of the groceries or butcher’s. I hope this vendor has them more frequently. He really did butcher and trim them nicely.

  34. I have never even heard of beef cheeks! I have been missing out. they look so lovely and rich and tasty.. you are cooking such lovely food lately John. Food I want to eat. In fact now that I think about it except for the pigeon, i want to eat all your food. wonderful.. hopefully after this next nasty bout of hideous weather you will not need to warm your kitchen with the oven for a while.. c

    • Thanks, Celi. That’s very kind of you to say. I actually do not mind the kitchen. The problem is Lucy. Even though her cage is in the next room, my office, the kitchen creates drafts and they’re so unhealthy for a bird. Now, if that isn’t a great reason for firing up the oven and cooking stew, chili, and lasagna, I don’t know what is. :)
      Today, Thursday, is supposed to be the worst of this cold spell. I hope so. It’s time to bid Winter farewell!

  35. Your beef photos practically have me drooling! Then again, they always do.

    I’ve been casting about for a good beef /crockpot recipe, and I think this one will be perfect. Also, I’ve never tried mashed potatoes and parsnips – I think a certain husband of mine will like that very much. :)

    • Thank you, Ruth, for your kind words. I cannot speak for your area but here, beef cheeks are only available by special order. Well, unless you get lucky and find a vendor at a farmers market like I did. I can get beef short ribs much more easily and use them when I need a slow-cooked beef fix. Here’s my recipe and its pretty popular. You can just as easily prepare them in your slow cooker. Just reduce the liquids a little and cook them, on low, for 8 hours. The meat will be falling off the bone. Let me know if you’ve any questions or need help of any kind. :)

  36. Looks delicious, John. Beef cheeks (and pork ones too) are so good! Unfortunately, our restaurants seem to buy up all the farmers have to sell, so they are very hard to find here.

    • Thanks, Michelle. They’re hard to find here, too. I always special order them, so, you can imagine my surprise to find them in that ice chest. I’ll be checking his chests every week he’s there. I’d love to have a few pairs stashed away in my freezer. How great would that be? :)

  37. I love the look of the Italian flag risotto – how did you get it to line up in neat rows like that? I love beef cheeks and cooked with them last winter. It’s a very comforting dish to cook when the temps are low outside. I think you’re recipe looks fabulous xx

    • If anyone would consider the mechanics of that risotto, it would be you, Charlie, the Master Cake Decorator. :) I place the white (center) rice in first, using a piece of cardboard to hold one side of it in place. I then poured a color on the other side of the cardboard, evened it, and pulled it. I then used the same piece of cardboard to push the other side of the white rice to form a straight line and poured the remaining color on the other side of it. I used a knife to make the lines as straight as I could and covered “bulges” with rice. Now, that was for the photos. I’m not nearly as particular when I serve it. Id rather serve a hot dish than one that’s geometrically perfect. :)

  38. yum! I love how you’re inspired at the market and love even more that you share it with us :-D Can I say that this is a cheeky recipe or will you block me from commenting in the future? ;-) The meat looks so moist and tender. You eat well!

    • Thank, Liz. I only post one recipe each week. When I shop at the grocery or farmers markets, I’m always wondering if something is “blog worthy.” I hit the jackpot when I found these beef cheeks. I certainly don’t eat this well on the other 6 nights of the week. I sure wish I could, though. :)

  39. I was in just the place for you today, John. I am sure there were beef cheeks to be had if I had asked for them. So happy to see the gluten free items for my gluten free crew.
    And I notice you are watermarking your photos now. Was someone copying them?
    Good to see you back.
    Another polar vortex predicted so will fire up the kitchen. Thanks for all your inspiration in that department.

    • If you can get them, Ruth, you must try cooking beef cheeks. Your Paleo Crowd will love them! I’ve not learned of any of my photos being used without proper accreditation but it is a concern. My recipes are appearing on a few sites now and though those site are OK, I wonder about other sites that may be accessing them, and so on.
      That vortex is here and we’ve got snow in the forecast for this weekend. Someone please show Old Man Winter the door!!!

    • Thank you so much. If you or someone at your table doesn’t care to have garlic bits in their vegetables, you can do as Mom did. She’d crush a clove or two of garlic and place them in the hot oil. Once they started to brown, she’d remove the cloves and use the now garlic-flavored oil to cook the vegetables. It works every time. :)

  40. So glad you posted this – it looks mouth-watering. I’ve had little success with my slow cooker, everything seems to come out mushy so it is collecting dust in a cupboard somewhere. BUT I did just get a Dutch Oven that I was going to try this week. Your tips will be very helpful – your post came just at the right time.

    • Thanks! You are in for a real treat. I cannot wait to read your Critics’ opinions. :) As I just wrote to another commenter, if you cannot find beef cheeks — until I found this vendor, I had to special order them — you may wish to try my beef short ribs recipe. It’s written for a Dutch oven and it’s similar to this cheeky recipe. You cannot go wrong with either recipe.

  41. I know what you mean about things working their way to the back of the freezer, I just found a couple of veal chops I’d forgotten about — let’s call it serendipity. Your beef cheeks look absolutely delicious and the sides are just perfect for it. :)

    • Thanks, Judy. You found veal chops! SCORE!!! That is a major find and will be a very special meal. Beef cheeks were meant for a slow braise. They become so tender and succulent. Yum!

    • I buy these at the Evanston farmers market. His “stall” is on the NW part of the market, nearest to the street. There are 2 other meat vendors. One is primarily poultry and also sells cheese, located in the center of the market. The third, located on the Eastern part, primarily sells beef products. I’ve not bought meet from these last 2 — not yet anyway. :)

  42. More people should be using beef cheeks! They’re so unbelievably good and these look particularly amazing!

    Just an FYI, tomorrow is going to be the first EVER #FoodBlogFriday on Twitter and you should totally participate! It’s super easy and it’ll be a lot of fun. Just share this post on Twitter using the hashtag #FoodBlogFriday and I’ll help drive traffic back to your site! I’m hoping you participate and don’t forget to let all your other blogger friends know!

    • Thank you. I think more would prepare cheeks if they could find them. Here, you have to special order them. I was very lucky to find a vendor at the farmers market that had them “in stock”.
      I don’t do much on Twitter but I’ll give you a tweet tomorrow. Good luck!

  43. I’d like to skip to that dessert! :-) And the sides are wonderful, too, John. What an interesting recipe, John. I have never had beef cheeks, but I see them prepared on Top Chef and have thought they would undoubtedly be very tasty. It’s great that you’ve made such strong relationships with organic meat vendors and you can feel good about the meat you prepare and serve. Here I am in California and I didn’t hear a thing about a recall. I will look into the link you’ve provided! OK…Now I’ll wait for that torte! :-)

    • Thanks, Debra. I knew nothing of the recall either until my Cousin pointed it out. It is great having a relationship with the organic meat vendors but, the problem is, they’re only around from May to the 1st weekend of November. The rest of the year, I’m on my own. I have just learned, however, of a highly-rated CSA that offers weekly home delivery and they, too, have meats. I am going to place an order to see what they’ll send.

  44. Looks scrumptious. I first discovered these “cheeks” working in a restaurant. They are indeed the ultimate comfort food – and yours look absolutely delicious in the rich dark sauce. Even though it is early morning, I could eat a plate of these right now….

    • I’ve only seen them on cooking shows. They’re only available her via special order. I will say, though, that this vendor was prepared them beautifully. There was no need to trim them in any way before cooking. I’ve heard that is rarely the case. That vendor is going to see a whole lot more of me.

  45. Wow!!! It looks like beef cheeks are really popular! To be honest, I have never heard of them and it looks like I’m the only one ;-) The side dishes looks and sounds great!

    • Thanks, Francesca. I’m a bit surprised that they are so well-known, too. Here, I can only buy them on special order. I’ve learned about them from the cooking shows, which normally means they’ll become scarce the the price will go up. Time will tell, I guess.

    • Thanks. Yes, that’s a liner. My last slow cooker was defective and would burn foods. I used the liners with it to help with the clean-up. Now, I’ve a new slow cooker but still use the liners. They are every bit as convenient as you would hope. A rarity these days. :)

  46. Cheeks look fantastic, John, but I don’t think I’ll be able to find them at the Halal butcher! I’ve always wanted to try them but short of getting my own cow, I don’t think I’ll be able to find them.
    The meal looks wonderful though and when I see this easy slow cooker recipes, I think I should use mine more! I think of it too late, then end up using my pressure cooker to quick cook vs slow cook :)
    Can’t wait for the chocolate torte!!

    • Thanks, Nazneen. Well, there are other cuts that will do equally well with a slow braise. Can you get beef short ribs? They are fantastic and respond well to a slow cooker. I’ve got a great recipe for them. If you’re interested, you can see it HERE. Either way, you’ll get a great meal with minimal fuss. Slow cookers are great that way. That torte recipe will be up late tonight — if I can get it written. Yikes! :)

  47. You’ve always got a new ingredient that I haven’t tried, I will be on the look out for cheeks, but my hopes aren’t too high. How lovely to find something so wonderful hiding in the back of your freezer. If you looked at the back of mine, you’d likely find a dried out old bag of buns. I do need to get organized, if I froze more meats I’d have less grocery shopping to do!!

    • Hey, Barb! You may need to talk to your butcher — even one at the grocery — and order beef cheeks. Until I found this vendor, that’s what I would have had to do. Every time I open my freezer, I say to myself, “I’ve got to clean this thing out!” Instead, I keep stuffing things into it like it has no back. Worse yet, I’ve got another one in the basement and it’s not in much better shape. Yikes!

  48. When I was a child, CJ, my mother cooked a variety of beef parts, such as tongue and heart along with the expected roasts and burgers, but I don’t remember ever partaking of cheeks! Right now I’m craving your potato-parsley mash with some of the cooking sauce. Yummy. Will be pinning.

    • Thanks, Kathleen. (Love your new Gravatar image, by the way). Mom, too, cooked plenty of beef but nary a cheek. I asked my Zia about them and she hadn’t prepared them, either. Too bad because they make a great meal. Yes, those parsnips are a nice addition to mashed potatoes. I’ll be making them again quite often.

    • Hi, Lisa. I see your name and start smiling because of your wonderful news. Whether this has earned a spot in the Bartolini recipe repertoire remains to be seen. It sure has earned a spot in my personal cookbook. :)

  49. Beef cheeks are one of my favourite things… actually, make that ANY slow cooked meat! These look delicious John. Glad that you managed to find some from the organic meat stall at the market! My local farmer’s market also sells organic capretto which is wonderful. Never knew how good goat could taste until I tried capretto! Anyway, I am definitely going to try this recipe as soon as the weather cools down a bit here. It’s now officially Autumn but still in the 30′s (celsius). Thanks John!

    • Thanks, Laura. This really is a wonderful World. You’re facing Fall and just today we had our first Spring-like day of the year. Granted, it’s going to snow again on Wednesday but never mind that. :)
      I’m with you and slow-cooked beef. For some cuts, it is the only way to go and the result is a great meal. I am so looking forward to the reopening of our farmers markets. I want to talk to that vendor and see what he offers by special order. I was surprised he had cheeks. Let’s see what other surprises he may have. :)

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