Slow Cooked Beef Cheeks

The last time I slow cooked some portion of beef (shins I recall) for dinner guests, they rang about five minutes before their expected arrival to meekly offer apologies for not being able to come. Personal issues. I remained calm (in spite of literally spending all day in the kitchen) but hubby was livid. Personal issues! They should have just pretended to like each other for three hours and eat the damned meal as far as he was concerned.

Beef cheeks

I remembered that particular no-show as I started preparing a pot of beef cheeks for a different set of dinner guests. I started the night before after coming home from an evening out; lovingly searing the cheeks before nestling them amongst vegetables in a warm bath of stock and red wine. While we slept, my trusty slow cooker turned the beef cheeks into food worthy of tears. I let the cheeks rest in the fridge once cooled while I worked on a creamy celeriac puree and zesty braised red cabbage. Then the phone call. Illness. I remained calm. I had four serves of beef cheek and gorgeous accompaniments. How could I get mad? :)

So my hubby and I sat down to a rather splendid winter feast. It was my first go at cooking beef cheeks but I was suitably pleased with my effort. I was aiming for the richer than rich sauce served at Harvest and while not quite there, I think I know where I need to tinker for the next time I tackle cheeks. Celeriac is pretty much a no-brainer accompaniment for beef cheek and little wonder. It helped cut down the richness of both the almost gelatinous meat and its sauce. My sweet and sour cabbage also played the perfect third wheel, giving a nice zing to what is otherwise a pretty hard going meal.

Beef cheeks

I’ll probably come back to this dish again over winter and post my final recipe then. For now, the ingredients used in the sauce: carrots, onion, garlic, celery, red wine, veal stock, tomato paste, pinch of five spice, salt & pepper, and tablespoon of cocoa. I’ll include recipes for the celeriac puree and braised cabbage then too :)

Slow Cooked Beef Cheeks (also good for Osso Bucco)

4 beef cheeks
one onion
one clove of garlic
one carrot
one stalk of celery
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup beef stock
1 400g tin of crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 tbsp Pedro Ximenez sherry
1 bay leaf
salt & pepper for seasoning

To make: Dice up onion, garlic, carrots and celery. Flour and season pieces of beef cheeks or osso bucco and heat up pan with olive oil. Seal the pieces of meat and transfer to slow cooker pot or other pot if slow cooking in oven. Add a little more oil and sautee the diced vegetables until heated through. Add red wine and stock (beef, veal or vegetable). Empty content of fry pan into slow cooker pot and turn slow cooker on to ‘Low’. Add crushed tomato, tomato paste, cocoa and Pedro Ximenez fortified sherry. Season further with a bay leaf, salt and pepper. Allow to slow cook for at least six hours and adjust flavour accordingly at this point. Give it another hour before serving.




  1. gerry guthmiller

    March 1, 2011 at 12:15 am

    I would greatly appreciate your recipe for the beef cheeks.

    • Monica

      March 2, 2011 at 9:39 pm

      Hello. Thanks for visiting. I forgot that I hadn’t posted a recipe here… I’m hoping to do beef cheeks again this winter but I’ll try and find the recipe I based mine on and post here if it helps. Please visit again in a week or so :)

  2. maddy

    May 26, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    Yammmmmm… (wondering if my local butcher sells cheeks… Coles sure dont!)

    • Monica

      May 26, 2011 at 9:54 pm

      Beef cheeks are awesome! Most good butchers should be able to order some in but often there’s a minimum amount. Good to stock in freezer tho :)

    • Linda

      January 29, 2012 at 10:54 am

      Woollies does :-)

      • Monica

        February 2, 2012 at 11:22 am

        I’ll have to take a look!

  3. gourmetgetaway

    August 20, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    I have been wanting a good beef checks recipe for ages!!
    I will be pinning this… oh and if you cook it for me I promise not to cancel :)

    • Moni

      August 23, 2013 at 4:38 pm

      He he – thanks :) I’m running out of cold months so might have to go and get some cheeks to do some up again. I’ve since learned to only invite foodies to dinner! We all know not to miss out on tasty things :D

  4. Emilly

    October 8, 2013 at 12:31 am

    I’ve never seared meat before putting it in the crock pot. What is the benefit of this? Thanks!!

    • Moni

      October 16, 2013 at 8:04 pm

      Hi Emilly. It’s not important to sear the meat if you’re using a slow cooker/crock pot since so much moisture is retained in this cooking method but nonetheless, I like to brown my meat to enhance the flavour. If you don’t have time or want to make a fry pan dirty, it doesn’t matter particularly with beef cheeks.

  5. Dana

    March 13, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    Emily, you sear meat before putting it in the crockpot to carmelize the exterior. First, it seals in the juices. Second, it adds great flavor to the overall dish. Third, it gives your meat a better appearance, rather than the drab grey of meat simmered in stock.

  6. william

    April 24, 2014 at 9:09 am

    Have been in croc pot for 9 hours, all the prep, wine too, getting ready for mushrooms reduction for sauce over polentra

    • Moni

      May 6, 2014 at 8:59 pm

      Fantastic! Hope it was a great dinner :D

  7. treasach

    July 12, 2014 at 9:52 am

    woolies do the beef cheek in vac packs and theyre dirt cheap!!! I’ve always wanted to try them as I am a huge fan of oxtail too … both are wonderful cuts worthy of high praise… its ironic though that if you go to a high end eatery and there is beef cheek on the menu … it costs an absolute bomb!!! thank you for the recipe… I’d love the celeriac mash and cabbage receipes too ????

  8. Wayne Cleary

    July 18, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Why the cocoa? I cook beef cheeks a lot and would like to try cocoa if I know what benefit it has.
    next time your guests bail out pick me, pick me.

  9. Etta Stephenson

    August 18, 2014 at 3:20 am

    What if you don’t have, and/or won’t use, wine or any other alcohol based liquid? What would be the best flavor to use?

  10. michele

    May 29, 2015 at 10:38 am

    Hi a good tip…Make sure your cheeks r as fresh as possible from the butcher or if frozen check they done have alot of sinue (u can c it in the cheeks) as I brought some crappy ones and they were so tough even after 5 hr cook them for 8 hrs ..Im going to try it again with a fresh free range calf cheeks I got given :)

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