Conflicted Tightwad Cooks Beef Cheeks in Red Wine.

Beef Cheeks (1 of 1)

Yes, the picture really does tell the story. Beef Cheeks in Red Wine. A good friend of mine was suggesting recipes to me. He talked me into cooking beef cheeks (a first for me). He got to my penny wise side by extolling their value. They really are a cheap cut. That appealed, as anybody who knows me knows, I have a Scrooge side. The skinflint in me was happy until I decided to follow a recipe recommended by a more extravagant friend. 

I got my cheeks in a good butcher’s shop. They are inexpensive, even by my penny-pinching standards. They are delicious and one can really bring out the best in them by submerging them in a nice fruity red wine for 24 hours before cooking. Now, I subscribe to the school that agrees one should use good wine in cooking. Particularly if it is a key ingredient like here. The problem is I had to use an entire bottle. The expense! At this stage, I was conflicted but committed.

The ingredients list (for four) is short, including the very inexpensive (meat) and the more extravagant (wine).


  • A bottle of mature, fruity red wine. (Expensive)
  • 2 or 3 beef cheeks. (Great value)
  • 2 carrots (Inexpensive)
  • 2 onions (Inexpensive)
  • 3 sticks of celery (Inexpensive)
  • 1 clove of garlic (Very inexpensive)
  • A bouquet garni (Free from the garden)

Not withstanding the long wine soaking, you will have to get up early to get the cooking underway. The cheeks need to be browned (blackened almost).

The wine soaking really helps the beef turn a very dark brown. Delicious.

The wine soaking really helps the beef turn a very dark brown. Delicious.

Chop up some onion, carrot and celery, nice and small. Sweat this down in the pan in which you browned the beef. Chop and add the garlic, at this stage too.

The holy trinity of beautiful stew. Onion, carrot and celery.

The holy trinity of beautiful stew. Onion, carrot and celery.

When the vegetables are sweated down, add back the beef and the wine.

Beef cheeks back in the wine. The start of a long slow cooking.

Beef cheeks back in the wine. The start of a long slow cooking.

Bring to the boil and add the bouquet garni.

This picture has no purpose except to show off the beautiful colours.

This picture has no purpose except to show off the beautiful colours.

Put a lid on the saucepan and place it in a warm oven (140º C) for six hours. Take the beef out of the wine sauce, wrap it in tinfoil and let it rest for 10 minutes or so. Remove and discard the bouquet garni. While the beef is resting, reduce the sauce by 50% or so. Serve it on a bed of parsnip mash (half parsnip and half potato).

The tightwad in me enjoyed the beef. The extravagant side of me loved the red wine sauce.

The tightwad in me enjoyed the beef. The extravagant side of me loved the red wine sauce.

For the parsimonious (now there’s a word!) amongst you, get somebody to give you the wine. For the spendthrifts, just get on with it. This conflicted me but both the tightwad and the profligate sides of my nature were brought together by this beautiful rich dish.

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  • Gordon Ramsay does an AMAZING beef cheek recipe with Madeira, star anise and soy sauce, can’t remember what else goes it it, but it’s truly heavenly! Gotta get me some beef cheeks for the festive season, what could be more Christmassy than this! Mmmm!

    • Hi Aisling,
      The cheeks are so good. The slow cooking is an essential part of it. As is the wine in this case. I can imagine that an Oriental style slow braising would be wonderful with it too. I must look it up and give it a go.
      Thanks for visiting and for the kind words.

  • Looks meltingly good. I’ve been meaning to get some beef cheeks for a while, this may provide just the push I need. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Linda,
      With all the wine sloshing around between now and Christmas, perhaps you won’t focus on the expense as much as I have here. It really is delicious.

  • I think it’s true to say that every unmentionable, unexpected or unexplored part of meat animals can be improved by the addition of wine, the holy trinity and endless moderate cooking. The best lamb curry I ever ate was made from twice cooked ‘lamb flaps’, as they inelegantly call the breast and flank in this country. Your beef cheeks look ambrosial. Shame I still have half a freezer full of pig, or I’d nip out and buy some….

    • Inelegant pretty well describes that part of the poor lamb. Eat the pig and then buy the cheeks.

  • That looks delicious – pig cheeks are also very tasty 😉

    • I will have to try and get my hands on some MD. Another ‘low and slow’ classic, I would hope.

      • Yes another one for the oven – they are less sinewy than beef too 🙂

  • Love this post! At least the wine doesn’t go to waste. This is very similar to my recipe when I made them for the first time. I serve them on polenta same difference! They’re very good and still inexpensive here since it’s not a popular cut. At least where I live.

    • They are truly delicious Mimi. I love the strength of the reduced wine / beef sauce. It is really wonderful.

  • I’ve had cod cheeks and hogs jowls… never tried beef cheeks. Must keep an eye out 🙂

    • Hi John,
      I’ve had beef cheeks, monkfish cheeks and two cheeky children. Must keep an eye out for the cod and pig.

  • Great minds! I made something very similar to this just last week, only with a tougher cut of venison- if I remember right it came from somewhere on the lower leg. Deer cheeks are just too small to bother with, and are usually ruined in the process of cleaning the trophy, anyhow. But the venison was pretty cheap, too- the price of the tag and the gas to go get it. Since we didn’t get a deer this past rifle season, my inner skinflint is dreading the prospect of buying beef again. I haven’t in about four years!

    • You must be lucky on the venison Amber. It seems to me that the tougher the meat, the lower and slower one goes and the better the outcome. This was lovely and I will be doing more with beef cheeks again.

  • When I next go to my butchers and find that the beef cheeks have rocketed in price I know who to blame. I think they are delicious.

  • I wouldn’t have you pegged as a miser Conor – bread and water then for a month after that blow out? Great dish, something I haven’t worked with yet but certainly will after that!

    • Do get into them Rory. I prefer the term ‘prudent’. But, yes, I am a miser.

  • A thing of real beauty is a beef cheek. As for the spendthrifts, chuck in a bottle of Guinness instead…

    • Now there’s a thought. My only fear is of being stereotyped, Be Gob!

  • Never had beef cheek before… Looks amazing!

  • Haven’t done cheeks yet. Thanks for the reminder. It’s not hard to guess how I will cook them… 😉

    • I was thinking about how you might cook them too, NOT. They will be amazing done sous vide. I look forward to the post.

  • I cooked something similar a few weeks ago which turned out delicious. Didn’t marinade the cheeks beforehand. It took me a lot of time to prep. the cheeks, removing sinews etc. Did your butcher do this or did you omit this step. I only cooked them for 3 hours.
    Love your blog.

    • Hi and thanks for the kind words. The cheeks looked pretty good when I got them. I bought them in Whelan’s Butcher’s in the Avoca store in Monkstown, Co. Dublin. Whelan’s keep a pretty high standard and all I had to do was take them out of the packaging and pour on that expensive wine!

  • I have never seen beef cheeks. If I did, I’d totally give them a try. I keep forgetting to make pigs feet!!!

    • That reminds me of the old gag: A woman goes into a butchers and asks “Do you have pigs feet?” “No, madam” the butcher replies, “It’s these shoes are too tight.”
      We call pigs feet Crubeens when cooked or Trotters when not. Crubeen is an Irish word. Trotter is so descriptive it nearly puts one off cooking them. Nearly…

  • They look wonderful. There’s always Cote du Rhone 🙂

    • Not on that lovely beef Rosemary. That’s a reasonable St. Emilion gone in there. The sauce was so worth it.

      • I-would-never! Guess I’ll have to eat at your house 😀

  • Another killer dish! Love this recipe! Now if I can only find those cheeks!

    • Worth the hunt Barb. They are excellent.

  • The beef cheeks look delicious and I have to say you get extra points for managing to get the word “parsimonious” in your blog – I thought I was reading a Charles Dickens novel for a second 🙂

    • I enjoyed sneaking it in there like an untried ingredient in a recipe.

  • What a great preparation, Conor. Well, any recipe that starts with wine is bound to meet with my approval. I must say, however, that our prices for cheeks are no longer at all reasonable. Blasted food shows! One TV chef comments that they’re a deal and everyone wants beef cheeks. Ah, the good old days …

    • John, it’s your duty to “have a quiet word” with that chef. We can’t have this type of thing becoming popular.

  • This is the second recipe for beef cheeks that I’ve seen this week and they both look amazing. I’ll have to experiment over Christmas!

    • Do that. It was a revelation to me and I should have tried them a lot sooner. Next time, I’ll try something without the wine, in an effort to keep the bills manageable.

  • I’ve had Ling Cod Cheeks, but have never even seen a Beef Cheek. There are a lot of new fruit-flavored micro-brews here in the states, that could possibly be an affordable compromise if you can find any in Ireland…?

    • Thankfully, we have a raft of micro-breweries springing up here like toads in Australia. And as suggested above, we can always fall back on the Guinness.

  • That looks amazing. I keep hearing how cheap beef cheeks are. My problem is finding them!

    • They can be difficult to find. A good, independent butcher will be your best bet.

  • This looks sooo good. Love the wine reduction. I was thinking of making beef cheek pasta when I find time and space to make my own pasta! Ok I’m all caught up on your blog now. Such a crazy holiday season for me. Good to see all your great work.

    • You are too kind to spend your hard earned rest time trawling through my blog. Pour a glass of wine and curl up with a good book (or Kindle).

      • So sweet. I’m actually multi-tasking at work right now. Shh. No rest for me. I would love to do that…the closest I think i’ll get to that is saturday. I’ll say “no” to work this weekend.

        • Good decision. I am run a bit ragged this week and for the next couple of weeks, until Christmas. After that, I do get a decent break. Badly needed.

  • for sure it will bee nice, expensive wine for slow cooking beef obviously turn out damn delicious!!!
    even with cheap cut of beef and cheap wine plus the zero cooking skills will be succesfull too, lol

    • I don’t know how take that Ðedy. What are you really saying about my skills? 😄

  • Bonjour Conor! That looks like the perfect meal to have on a rainy day like this in Paris! We are a French Cooking and Baking School in Paris and we just started our very own blog. I’d like to invite you to check us out sometime 😉 Also, if you’re ever in town, please do come by!

    • Love the blog. You had me at Mont d’Or. What a wonderful cheese. I promise that next time I’m in Paris, I will look you up. Outside Dublin, it has to be my favourite city on the planet.

  • Looks very deliciouw….

    For indian cuisine folllow :

  • Reblogged this on uvirfarms.

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