Beef cheeks are a fantastic cut of cheap meat, perfect for braising as they need to be cooked for a long time to break down the connective tissue.
Don't be put off by the fact that they are from the cheek of a beast; their flavour is fantastic.
Beef cheeks require a little bit of time to prepare and then they can be left in the oven to do their own thing. This dish is perfect to make the day before and reheated. Great for when friends are coming over.
The first time I had beef cheeks was at a friend's, John Caro, who served them on a broad bean and pancetta risotto ... totally addictive. We have been getting beef cheeks in at Farro weekly ever since.
1.2 to 1.5kg beef cheeks, cut into large chunks.
3 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
1 x double portion of soffritto base (see recipe)
100g pancetta or streaky bacon cut into thin strips
20g dried porcini mushrooms (soaked in 1cup of boiling water)
1 x 700ml jar passata
500ml of Essential Cuisine beef stock
2 floury potatoes eg, agria - peeled and chopped into bite-size pieces
2 bay leaves
1 bunch of Italian parsley
Salt and pepper
1. Pre-heat oven to 160C. Place beef cheek pieces in a plastic bag with the flour, salt and pepper then shake to coat. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan and brown the beef cheeks in batches. Set aside.
2. Make soffritto in a heavy-based casserole dish, then add the pancetta and continue to stir for another 2 minutes. Add the browned beef cheeks.
3. Stir in the stock, passata, porcini mushrooms (including the soaking water), potatoes, bay leaves and parsley.
4. Ensure the cheeks are covered with liquid, adding a little water if necessary. Cover and cook in the oven for a minimum of 3-4 hours, stirring every now and again. Cook until meat is very tender and starting to fall apart.
5. Remove bay leaves and parsley stems before serving.
6. Serve with garlicky potato celeriac mash.