There are so many reasons why I think slow cooked meals are amazing. There are not many meal formulas as foolproof as throwing vegetables, meat, stock and spices into a slow cooker, popping it on low all day and coming home after work to a house filled with the most delicious aroma of melt in your mouth food. The variety of flavours that you can create with a ridiculous amount of ease is astounding. Slow cooked meals are often my go-to dinner party meal when I’m working because I can have most things ready by the time I come home and it doesn’t take too long to pull the final touches of an effortless masterpiece together.
Beef cheeks are one of my, most of my family’s and my friend’s favourite slow cooked dinners or, to be honest, dinners altogether. Unfortunately, however, apart from pulled pork (which I will go into another day), my sister has an aversion to most slow cooked meals due to texture of slow cooked meals. Furthermore, she could not get her head around “eating the face of a cow” (I’m sorry I even had to say it), and consequently they were not often featured on our household dinner menu. Since my sister graduated university, packed her bags and moved to Emerald to teach (a remote mining town in central Queensland), beef cheeks have been a regular Friday night dinner fixture. Not only are they utterly delicious, but this amazing cut of meat is insanely affordable, healthy and completely in line with my food philosophy of eating unprocessed whole foods. You can even pick them up from Woolworths in the offal section (an offally good choice, if I don’t say so myself).
Although I have tried several variations of beef cheeks, my flavour of the month at the moment, so to speak, is a very loosely adapted version of Sarah Wilson’s, from “I Quit Sugar”, Chinese Slow Cooked Beef Cheeks.
- two onions
- beef cheeks (1 per person)
- 1 and 1/2 cups (or enough to cover ¾ of the beef cheeks) stock -beef, vegetable or bone broth
- 1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2-4 cloves of crushed garlic
- 2 star anise pods
- 1tsp ginger (fresh or dried)
- chili (depending on how hot you can handle)
- 2tbs chinese five spice
- shitake mushrooms (optional)
- Add two chopped onions to the bottom of the slow cooker. Meanwhile, heat a pan to high in order to seal the beef cheeks (1 per person). They only need a couple of minutes on each side. After they are browned, place them on top of the onions in the slow cooker. Add stock or bone broth, apple cider vinegar, reduce sodium soy sauce or tamari, garlic, star anise, ginger, chilies and Chinese five spice. I usually rub the spices into the beef cheeks and turn them over a few times to coat them in the mixture. Sometimes I will throw in dried shitake mushrooms for good measure. From there, turn the slow cooker onto low and leave the deliciousness to cook for 8-10 hours – long enough so that the beef cheeks melt in your mouth, but not so long that they fall apart into a gooey mess as you put them on the plate. I usually serve them with blanched green beans or broccoli with a touch of sesame oil, or with thinly sliced cabbage that has been dressed in apple cider vinegar. Sometimes both.
Sometimes it’s good to be a little cheeky.