10 Jul Braised Beef Cheeks


Braised Beef Cheeks

10 July 2020

PREP. TIME: 30 MIN   -   COOK TIME: 3 - 5 hours   -   SERVES: 4

The gelatinous nature of beef  cheeks (or beef osso bucco) give the flavour and texture of a meat stew that we all seek.  When properly cooked, the meat simply pulls apart with a fork.

Serve with wet polenta, buttered parsley noodles or mashed potatoes.

Recipe Template

The meat will benefit from at least 4 - 6 hours of salting and being brought to room temperature before cooking (see Method Step 1 below). For this reason it is not exactly a last minute meal - rather it is something you should plan for and look forward to.  It is just as good if not better the next day.  

Any leftovers make an excellent pie filling.  

See other notes below on serving leftovers.  

NB: If you are making this braise in advance, once the meat is tender remove it from the stove and allow it to cool before covering and refrigerating.  See further notes on PAR COOKING below.

Be sure to bring the dish to room temperature before gently reheating.

ingredients for 4 - 6 Serves

1  kg  Beef Cheeks or Beef Osso Bucco - the pieces are cooked whole

Sea Salt or Kosher Salt

2  Bay Leaves

2  Sprigs  Thyme

Extra virgin olive oil

90    g   Pancetta, guanciale or unsmoked bacon - skin removed - ask your butcher  or delicatessen to either finely slice or chop into small cubes    

200 mls     Full bodied dry red wine

10     small onions

3   medium size, thick carrots

4 - 6 swede

500 g turnips

2 sticks celery

2 strips orange peel

3 tablespoons tomato paste

2 cups water or meat stock - plus extra to cover

400 g skinned tomatoes - fresh or tinned


A large shallow ceramic or glass baking dish that will fit in your refrigerator (this is to store the salted meat in (see Method Step 1).

A small saucepan to heat the tomato paste and stock or water

Paper Towel

A large heavy based fry pan or saucepan with a fitted lid.

Slotted spoon


Large plate

Chopping board and Paring knife

Vegetable peeler



Step 1

When you get the meat home from the butcher, unwrap it, pat it dry, rub in 1 - 2 desert spoons of sea salt or kosher salt.  Add a sprig of thyme and a bay leaf.

Leave uncovered in the refrigerator in a large shallow ceramic or glass dish for 4 - 48 hours. 

Bring to room temperature 1 - 2 hours before cooking.

Step 2

Prepare the vegetables and other ingredients

Peel and keep whole the onions if small, otherwise halve or quarter large onions.

Peel the carrots and chop into large chunks crosswise

Peel the turnip and swede and keep whole or cut into quarters or eighths - depending upon the size.

Rinse and dice the celery.

Skin the tomatoes, if using fresh tomatoes.

Mix the tomato paste with the water or stock and simmer gently.

Dice the pancetta, bacon or guanciale if this has not been done for you.

Pat each piece of meat dry with paper towel.

Step 3

Place the large pan over moderate heat and add the olive oil and the pancetta, bacon or guanciale - cook gently until the fat runs - do not let it burn.

Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve on the plate.

Gently place the pieces of beef cheek or beef osso bucco into the hot oil to brown.  Do not overcrowd the pan - you may need to do this in 2 or 3 batches.

Turn the meat with the tongs.  Once it is brown, set it aside on the plate with the pancetta, bacon or guanciale.

Continue in this way until you have browned all of the meat.

Step 4

Return all of the meats to the pan with any oil and juices.

Pour over the wine and allow it to bubble until it has almost evaporated.

Add the chopped tomatoes and cook gently until they begin to break down.

Add the water or stock heated with the tomato paste.

Add all of the prepared vegetables, the orange peel and the herbs.

Season with a little salt and some freshly ground pepper.

Gently bring all of the ingredients to the boil and immediately reduce the heat to a simmer.

Seal the pot with a large piece of baking paper and the lid of the pan or pot.

Step 5

Continue cooking over low heat for 3 - 5 hours.  The liquid in the pan should be hardly trembling at all - do not let it boil.

The meat is cooked once it is so tender that it pulls apart with a fork.

Step 6

To serve - have a heated shallow dish ready.

Arrange the meat and vegetables on the platter and pour over the gravy.  Do not overflow the plate - extra gravy can be served from a small jug.

Serve with buttered noodles, mashed potatoes, polenta or bread to soak up all of the delicious juices.


Try serving leftovers by gently reheating and serving with jacket potatoes and a salad of sliced cabbage and tomatoes.


If you do not have time to cook the meat in one go - you can easily finish the cooking time on the day you are planning to serve it.  It is very important that you gently reheat the dish rather than bring the ingredients to a rapid boil....


Recipe by Elizabeth Peddey

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