Cinnamon-Braised Beef Cheek

September 12, 2012 in Categories: , , by

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When my local farmer offered me 25 pounds of grass-fed beef cheek for a mere $2/lb, how could I refuse!  It didn’t matter that I had never cooked beef cheek before!  A quick scour for recipes on the internet revealed that the only way to cook beef cheek is to braise it.  But what you add for flavor is completely up to you!  I also happened to have some gorgeous fresh organic butternut squash from the Farmer’s Market.  These two ingredients inspired this delicious, comfort food.  Yes, beef cheek equals comfort food.

Never had beef cheek?  After braising, it really is so tender you can cut it with a spoon.  It is a muscle, so the flavor is very familiar (not organy), but it also has a lot of connective tissue which becomes soft and gelatinous after braising.  The braising liquid becomes ridiculously rich and flavorful.  The butternut squash in this dish is optional, but the flavors work very well together.  It makes the meal feel very much like a stew.  If you prefer, after braising, you could remove the meat and puree the squash in the broth for a thick gravy (making this dish more like a pot roast).  I also think this would be delightful served on a bed of spaghetti squash, in which case you might want to leave the butternut squash out of the recipe (of course, who says you can’t have two kinds of winter squash with supper?!).  This recipe serves 7-8.

Can’t find a good source of beef cheek?  This recipe would work with any stewing beef or pot roast.

Ingredients:

  1. I preferred to leave my beef cheeks whole (the pieces were varying sizes).  If you like, you could chop into 2” cubes.  Slice onions into ¼” thick half-moons.  Peel, seed and cube butternut squash into 1-2” cubes.
  2. Preheat oven to 300F.
  3. Heat 2Tbsp tallow in a medium stock pot over medium-high heat.  Add beef cheeks in batches to brown on all sides (mine took three batches).  Remove beef cheeks from the pot and set aside.
  4. Add onion to stock pot (you may need to add an extra Tbsp of tallow here) and brown until slightly caramelized, 7-8 minutes.
  5. Return cheek to pot, arranging tightly together over the bottom of the pot (it’s okay if you have 2-3 layers).  Add broth, cinnamon sticks and salt. Add butternut squash on top of the beef. (The broth should just barely cover the beef.  It’s okay if not all the squash is covered, but make sure the cinnamon sticks are submerged).
  6. Cover and bring to a simmer on the stove top over high heat (shouldn’t take long), then place in the oven.
  7. Cook for 3 hours.  Enjoy!

Comments

Been curious about trying outside the norm cuts of meat so I made this with a combination of beef cheeks and a roast that I cut up into chunks. The beef cheeks are amazing! Totally tender and fall apart good after being in the slow cooker on low for the day. The beef chunks, not so much. To the extent that my kids wanted the beef cheeks and not the ‘regular’ meat and I think BCs will become my fav slow cooker meat. I bought 1 cheek at the farmers market. $6.00/lb, (I live in Canada.) I hope direct from the farm will yield a better deal.

Beef cheeks are the bomb. I have them all the time. I never buy diced beef to slow cook- just cheeks for the same price. I would cry tears of joy if I could get beef cheeks in Australia for that price. They are super in vogue here- all the trendy restaurants have them.

If you cook them in a slow cooker with the lid off you get this awesome black (not burnt just BLACK) crunchy exterior to the soft gooey inside.

[…] 8. Cinnamon-Braised Beef Cheek They’re using beef cheek here, which is a cut of meat that you might not have tried before. On Paleo you might find yourself cooking up all sorts of creations that you never thought you’d eat, but it’s all about exploring new foods and keeping that sense of wonder alive. Added to this roast is plenty of veggies in the form of an onion and butternut squash. They say the squash is optional, but we’d suggest going with it so you can have your entire meal cooked at once. […]

[…] 8. Cinnamon-Braised Beef Cheek They’re using beef cheek here, which is a cut of meat that you might not have tried before. On Paleo you might find yourself cooking up all sorts of creations that you never thought you’d eat, but it’s all about exploring new foods and keeping that sense of wonder alive. Added to this roast is plenty of veggies in the form of an onion and butternut squash. They say the squash is optional, but we’d suggest going with it so you can have your entire meal cooked at once. […]

Beef cheek is a Mexican delicacy called Barbacoa. In fact, the entire head is considered a delicacy; the brains, the ears, the tongue and even the eyes!

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