Winter is the perfect time to make full use of slow cooked meals, whether you have a slow cooker or not. Slow cooked meals are the perfect prepare ahead meal as they usually cook for many hours, meaning that the bulk of the work, which is usually very little, can be done in the morning, leaving very little to do just before dinner time.
Beef cheeks are a delicious cut of meat and are quite affordable. They are rich, smooth, lean and tender when slow cooked. They used to be a whole lot cheaper before the demand for them increased with their use in restaurants. Beef cheeks are much better slow cooked than cooked any other way, and the salsa verde that is added at the end in this meal cuts through the richness of the sauce and the beef perfectly.
Salsa verde, or ‘green sauce’, is a sauce that is made from a combination of herbs – parsley, basil and mint, as well as garlic, capers, anchovies, Dijon mustard, olive oil, lemon juice and red wine vinegar. The result is such a light fresh, flavoursome sauce that is so good with this beef, but also works extremely well with fish or potatoes.
I’m sure you’re wondering, what about the kids, I bet they don’t eat it? Mark really enjoys this meal, except he’d prefer to not have the salsa verde, most likely due to the bite that the uncooked garlic provides. Claire is always a bit funny with meat, if it’s not mince, but she always eats a small amount and Elise is hit and miss, on one occasion, she loved the slow cooked meat and on another she wasn’t interested. Depending on your family, this may be a dinner that is better saved for the adults, but I like to get our kids to eat the food that we eat the majority of the time.
I would usually serve these beef cheeks with mashed potato or parsnip, or a combination of the two, as well as some steamed greens.
- 375mL red wine – a heavier wine such as Shiraz or Cab Sav work well
- 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 1kg beef cheeks
- 1 brown onion, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- Zest of 1 orange, cut off in strips
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 sprigs of thyme
- 1 cup beef stock
- 2 tbs cornflour to thicken
- 1 cup flat leaf parsley, loosely packed
- 3/4 cup basil leaves, loosely packed
- 1/2 cup mint leaves, loosely packed
- 1 tbs Dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tsp baby capers
- 1 anchovy
- 2 tbs red wine vinegar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Place the red wine into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for ~10 minutes to reduce the wine. Remove from the heat after 10 minutes.
- Heat a frypan, or crockpot (if cooking on the stove or in the oven), over medium heat and add the olive oil and the beef cheeks. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side to allow them to brown. Remove from heat.
- Place the onion in the frypan or crockpot and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, to give it some colour, add the garlic and cook for a further 1-2 minutes.
- Transfer the onion and garlic to the slow cooker or pot it will be cooked in and add the orange zest, bay leaves, thyme, stock and reduced red wine.
- Set the slow cooker to low and cook for at least 6 hours.
- If you are cooking on the stove top, cook, covered, over low heat for 3-4 hours or until the beef starts to fall apart. If cooking in the oven, cook, covered for 3-4 hours at ~140°C for 3-4 hours.
- While the beef is cooking, make the salsa by placing herbs, mustard, garlic, capers, anchovy and red wine vinegar in the small bowl of a food processor and pulse several times to chop the herbs. Add the lemon juice and olive oil and pulse a few times to combine. The salsa verde should not be completely smooth in consistency, so resist the temptation to over blend.
- After the 3-4 or 6 hours, depending on your cooking method, the beef should be very tender and starting to fall apart. At this point the liquid will still be quite thin.
- Remove 1 cup of liquid and add 2 tbs of cornflour to this 1 cup of liquid and mix to combine. Return this back into the slow cooker and mix gently to combine. This will help to thicken the sauce.
- Place the pot over low heat or increase the heat of the slow cooker and remove the lid and allow the liquid to bubble for around 5 minutes to help to further thicken the sauce.
- Serve the beef cheeks with mashed potato or parsnip and drizzle some salsa verde over the top.