Beef cheeks are rippled with gelatin and perfect for braising until tender.
Ready to discover what may just be your new favorite beef cut? You might have actually been eating it all along in barbacoa tacos…
It’s beef cheek, and yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like. The problem is, most places (at least in Texas) sell a pretty gnarly untrimmed version of this – trust me, I had to do some serious trimming to get it to look as pretty as it does above, but if you can find a butcher or carniceria who will trim away most of the crap, you’re onto a good thing.
These cheeks are laced with delicate seams of fat and collagen, just waiting to be broken down into impossibly soft deliciousness…. FYI, beef cheeks are amazeballs in the smoker too, cooking up like little mini briskets but with the added bonus of a much faster cook time. This recipe braises them in a dark beer based aromatic liquid and then let’s all those flavors shine over a plate of creamy grits. It’s a pretty fabulous dish for winter time- indulgent, rich and filling.
Porter braised beef cheek with grits
4 beef cheeks, cut into large pieces
1 roughly chopped medium onion
1 roughly chopped carrot
1 stick cinnamon
2 star anise
2–4 springs of thyme
2 tbspn olive oil
24 oz porter or dark beer (700ml)
24 oz beef stock (700ml)
1 cup good quality stone ground grits
3 cups water
1 cup cream
1/2 cup sorghum syrup (see note 1)
1/2 cup cider or cane vinegar
salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 300f/150c
- In a large heavy based pot (I use an enamelled cast iron pot), heat the olive oil. Season beef cheek pieces with salt & pepper, then brown them on both sides. Remove from pan once done.
- Add the onion and carrot to the pan, trying to scrape up all the brown pieces left on the bottom from the cheeks.
- Once onion has softened, add beef back in, plus beer, stock, thyme, anise, cloves and cinnamon stick. Sprinkle with a little more salt.
- Bring to boil then place in oven for 4-5 hours until meat is fall apart tender.
- When cheeks are nearly ready, prepare grits by bringing water and cream to a gentle boil. Add in grits, whisking constantly until thick and tender. Salt to taste.
- In a small pan, combine cider vinegar and sorghum syrup. Stir and allow to reduce slightly.
- To serve, spoon grits onto a plate, and top with the beef cheeks. Drizzle the sorghum syrup on top and enjoy.
Note 1: Sorghum syrup can also be substituted with molasses.