Monday, March 9, 2015

Slow Cooker Red Wine Beef Cheeks

Once again, I am reminiscing about France.  In 2012, we spent some time in Paris, renting an apartment on Rue Riovoli.  It was typically small, but very quiet and located across from the Tivoli Gardens and quite accessible to walking to the Louvre and other places of interest.  Our first evening in Paris, we had made reservations for dinner at REED on Rue Amelie which is a street which runs next to Rue Cler.  Owner, Catherine, is a Canadian, and I learned about her restaurant from blogger friends.  Our dinner that night was is every dinner in France.

I had Osso Bucco and The Trout had Beef Cheeks Bourguignon.  Beef cheeks...those large meaty lumps in the cow's face.  Yes, they were butter knife tender and delicious.  This was the  first time we had heard of them and the first time we had eaten them.  Oh yes, I got my share off his plate also.  The meat simply melted in your mouth.

Of course, when back home, we talked about the beef cheeks and in the last three years have never seen them in any butcher shop.  Until.....a couple of weeks ago.  We did not buy immediately, but went home first to research how we were going to prepare the cheeks.  So last weekend, we went back and bought the cheeks and then we smelled them all day in the slow cooker.

The butcher had not cleaned and trimmed the cheeks.  It was a job and I immediately decided no one wanted to see photos of this procedure.  There was fat and silver membranes that needed to be removed.  The next time, I hope to find the cheeks cleaned.  It is a lot of work to prepare them.  Otherwise, beef brisket or chunks of chuck roast could substitute, but I doubt they would be able to duplicate the melt in your mouth pieces of meat that the cheeks provided.

Slow Cooker Red Wine Beef Cheeks
From Recipe Tin Eats

Serves 6

3 tablespoons olive oil, separated\
3 lbs beef cheeks (4 large or 6 small)
1 onion, roughly diced, about 1 cup
1 celery stalk, roughly diced, about 1 cup
1 carrot, roughly diced, about 3/4 cup
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
4 dried bay leaves
1 cup beef stock
2 cups red wine
3 tsp salt, separated
Black pepper

Prepare the beef cheeks; cut off any large, fatty membrane.  Pat dry and then season each side with 1 tsp of salt and a good grind of pepper.

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large, heavy based pan over high heat.  Sear the beef cheeks on each side until nicely  browned.  Remove cheeks onto a plate loosely covered with foil to keep warm.

Turn down the heat to medium and heat the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil.  Add garlic, onion and carrots.  Sauté for 3 minutes until onion is becoming translucent.  Then add celery and sauté for 3 minutes.

Pour the onion mixture into a slow cooker and place the beef cheeks on top.  Pour the wine into the fry pan and return to heat.  Bring to a simmer and let simmer 1 minute.  Scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.

Pour the wine into the slow cooker, then all the remaining ingredients.  Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 6 hours.

Open the slow cooker and remove the beef cheeks.  Remove the bay leaves.  Using a hand held blender stick, puree the braising liquid into a smooth sauce.  Pour into a saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Simmer until the sauce turns a darker color and reduces by 1/4 to 1.3 to a gravy consistency, about 10 minutes.  Whisk in a tablespoon of butter to smooth it out.  Add the beef cheeks to the sauce and serve ladled over mashed potatoes.


  1. Your dish looks so tasty. Just the words "beef cheeks" brings forth thoughts of deliciousness! Thanks for sharing this recipe - surely we will get cold weather here again soon and this would be the perfect meal to scent a gray day.

  2. Susan,these sound wonderful. I am in hog heaven just thinking of them :-) I've never seen beef cheeks in our local markets,but perhaps if I ask.......

  3. I've never seen beef cheeks in the market nor have I ever tasted them, but from your description I must check them out immediately. I suspect if you asked the butcher, he might trim and clean them up for you. We've asked that he trim and tie different meats and they are usually very cooperative.

  4. It sounds good to me, Susan! And a good recipe for the slow cooker. I do remember these from growing up on the farm in Ohio, when dad shipped cattle to the slaughter house, but not sure what was done with them. Like your unique recipe!

  5. I love your description of Paris Susan. We are going to spend a week there in April and you've made me even more excited. I will definitely look for beef cheeks on the menu!

  6. Oh, be still my heart. I've never had beef cheeks but know without a doubt that I would savor every bite. Your recipe sounds very similar to plans I have for short ribs this week. I'm excited about that. ;) blessings ~ tanna

  7. Susan guess what we had for dinner last night? Slow cooked beef cheeks! But I was fortunate - French butchers know they have to clean them before selling.

  8. I haven't seen beef cheeks in the market either Susan, but will keep my eyes open. You reminded me of fond memories of our meals at REED. Catherine is a marvelous chef.

  9. We love beef check tacos, I know sounds strange but so delicious! thanks for sharing your stories of the wonderful times you've had in France ;)