Spanish Braised Beef Cheeks

I hate the word ‘gourmet’. I think it sounds pretentious. It’s a bit like when people describe themselves as ‘posh’ or ‘classy’… they generally are not. So I never use this word when describing a meal I had or something I cooked as I immediately lose all credibility.

Now although I hate the word, I hold nothing against The Australian Gourmet Traveller. It is definitely one of my favourite sites for great recipes and I don’t think we have ever had a dud.

One of my favourite recipes that we have had over and over again is Spanish Braised Beef Cheeks. It is rich and decadent and delicious but when served with tomato and garlic rubbed sourdough and a simple parsley and anchovy salad it leaves the winter menu and becomes a perfectly good option for autumn and spring. The three elements of this dish complement each other so well and give a different take on a traditional winter casserole.


Gourmet Traveller: Spanish Braised Beef Cheeks
Serves 4

50 g pork fat
1 onion, finely chopped
6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 tomatoes, blanched, peeled and chopped
2 thyme sprigs
2 fresh bay leaves
8 beef cheeks or 750 g chuck steak if you cannot get beef cheeks as I couldn’t on this day
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tbsp smoked sweet paprika
1/2 tsp saffron threads
1 cup manzanilla fina sherry
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup green olives

Tomato Bread
4 thick slices of sourdough bread
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove of garlic, halved
1 ripe tomato, halved

Preheat oven to 160C. Heat pork fat in casserole over medium heat until the fat renders, about 2 minutes. Dust beef cheeks with seasoned flour, shaking off excess. Add cheeks to the pan of rendered pork fat and fry each side until golden brown. Remove cheeks and transfer to the casserole dish. Add smoked paprika to the pan, then deglaze with sherry and sherry vinegar. Add liquid to the beef cheeks along with the stock.

In a separate pan heat olive oil over low heat and add onion and garlic and cook, stirring until soft. Then add tomatoes and herbs and cook until tomato breaks down, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add to the casserole and bake covered for 2 hours, then add the olives and cook, basting, until meat is tender, about a further 2 hours.

Turn off the oven, drain sauce from the casserole into a saucepan and return the meat, covered, to the warm oven. Cook over high heat until reduced to a rich thick sauce, about 20 minutes. Return sauce to the casserole and keep in warm oven.

For the tomato bread, heat a chargrill pan, or an oven grill on high heat. Brush bread with oil on both sides and grill each side until golden. Rub each piece of bread with the cut side of the garlic and then the tomato, squeezing the tomato as you rub.

Serve immediately with the parsley and anchovy salad.

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