Three Day Beef Cheeks Sous Vide – Debate Over.

“Why would you waste three days cooking a bit of beef?” “How can a cut like that taste good?” “Wouldn’t a nice fillet be tastier?” So go the questions. So goes the debate. I can tell you now. The debate is over. There is very little to be said. For the technical amongst you, this was beef cheeks sous vide 54/72 (129/72 American and 54ºC for 72 hours for the non technical). 

My ingredient list acts as a counterpoint to the cooking time. It’s very short. Merciful short given the cooking time.

Ingredients

  • 2 beef cheeks, trimmed of any bits that don’t look like meat.
  • A few dried porcini mushrooms
  • Black pepper to season

Put the mushrooms into a blender and blitz them to a fine powder. If they are good porcini, they will blitz to a really fine dust. Grind the black pepper. Sprinkle the beef with the black pepper and porcini. Go easy on the mushroom as it is packed with flavour and will have three days to permeate the meat.

This whole preparation process is very short too.

Vacuum seal the cheeks. I double sealed mine as I have seen too many pictures of long-cooked sous vide stuff where the bag bursts or leaks.

Here in Ireland we would say “To be sure, to be sure”.

Side note on other stuff that can go wrong: Bacteria can cause a problem. If one is unlucky enough to have some lactobacillus on the surface of the meat, it can grow and create a foul smell from the meat. It won’t kill you but it’s best to avoid it. Do so by dipping the bagged meat into boiling water for 30 seconds or so before cooking. I did mine in the same pot in which I sous-vided the beef. As soon as I had boiled the bag, I added cold water to bring the temperature down for the long cook. That was energy saving too. 

Yes, it’s boil in the bag beef.

Go away for a long weekend or have three sleeps. Remove the beef from the bag, being careful to preserve the juices. Brown the beef on a pan, with a blowtorch or in a screaming hot oven for a few minutes. I prefer the cast iron pan. Just before searing the beef, cut up an onion and fry it until it starts to brown. Add a quarter litre of good beef stock and a glass of red wine to the pan. Cook until it has thickened nicely. Add the bag juices at this stage and reduce it down again. Taste and season. Season the beef too and give it a good sear. I served mine on a bed of mash with the sauce, including the onions, poured over.

This fed two of us very well indeed.

There is enough in one beef cheek to feed two people. Despite my photo above, that’s what we did. The other one went into the freezer and we had it a week later. If you look around the blog, you will see an attempt at beef cheeks done at 58ºC for 48 hours and also 60ºC for 48 hours. Both have their merits but, this approach leaves them chewing the cud. In my opinion, the debate is over. For great beef cheeks sous vide, it’s 54ºC for 72 hours. I was really happy with the flavour and texture of the beef. If you have a sous vide, try it. If you don’t, get one and you will see why. Debate over!

 

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Latest comments
  • Nice Conor. I just saw some lovely beef cheeks in the market.

  • I remember suggesting SV cheeks to you a whle back, if I recall correctly I found longer cooks left the meat too soft to handle without falling apart completely, and settled on a sweet spot of 9 hours. Maybe the cheeks you get in Ireland are a slightly different cut to those you get here?

    • Hi Simon, that must have been a much higher cooking temperature than 54C for them to fall apart after 9 hours. More like 80C I reckon? That will give a very different result than at 54C, which keeps the meet red and juicy rather than flaked. 24 hours at 74C would be my advice for flaky (‘pulled’).

  • Conor, if you keep posting these Sous Vide recipes I’m going to have to go the other side and get a Sous Vide contraption. Do you have a manufacturer you recommend?

    • You should definitely get a sous vide contraption. Anova is the most popular brand and I imagine there is a Black Friday sale going on. Go for it!

  • I like my Gourmia. I don’t need or want my Sous Vide to connect into the Internet, or my phone. If you do, then Anova is probably your best choice.

  • I really do like the idea of the porcini in this! This looks very yummers!

  • That’s us told, then 🙂 I’m vainly attempting to downscale the number of kitchen trinkets I own. Adding a sous vide isn’t going to happen any time soon, I fear. I’m already being asked to choose between my pressure canner and my 30 litre stock pot, between the sandwich press and my griddle. I need a house with an equipment pantry…

      • It’s more a question that we’re moving to a smaller house… Still, the new kitchen needs tearing out and replacing, having not been touched since the 1970s, so maybe I can get the floor to ceiling storage I’ve always wanted…

  • What a difference a degree or 4 makes. You know what’s going to happen now though, Bofin. Someone’s going to start up a splinter blog where they do nothing but sous viding at 1 degree variables over 5 minute differentials. They will be flooded with followers as the world authority on beef cheek sous viding but they will be STEALING YOUR WORK, CONOR. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

  • Delicious looking cheeks and a good tip on lactobacillus – we’ve been looking at a good value second hand professional vacuum sealer today and beef cheeks are definitely something I’m likely to sous vide often.

      • We missed it, but I’m sure there will be another one…

  • Well, if the debate is over, it is over ! We Australians must be rather recalcitrant folk as I, dare I say it, totally feel like Kate 🙂 ! That said, absolutely love beef cheeks and have a number of delicious recipes which don’t take more than a few aromatic hours . . . but, I do understand this may not be the arena to discuss this . . . 🙂 !

    • The beef cheeks cooked for a few hours at a temperature above 80C can be good, but it can’t be compared to this. It is beef cheek, but looks and tastes like a scotch fillet (ribeye) with more flavor.

  • Great post Conor! With perfect technique, especially the anti-lactobacillus treatment. The freezing is also a great idea, because you could even make a larger batch so that the cooking time per meal is not as bad. I haven’t done beef cheeks yet, but wild boar cheeks and pork cheeks and veal cheeks and they were all great. What about salt?

      • I have not done really long cooks with post-salting to confirm, but with shorter cooks pre-salting is clearly better, so I always apply salt before.

  • That sauce looks divine. We’re big fans of mushroom and steak combinations.

      • I can imagine it can be tricky. But it definitely looks worth the effort.

  • *big smile* Dear Stefan: you should know by now mine are always cooked stovetop in a Le Creuset pot ! Still ‘allergic’ to sous-vide and, methinks, always will be . . . !

  • Thanks Conor, I think an Anova will be under the tree come Christmas.

  • Thanks for your input Stefan, luckily we can order Anova here. They ship from the Netherlands.

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