Beef cheeks benefit from slow cooking. It transforms the tough meat into a melt-in-your-mouth, rich and tender delicacy.
It’s a truly simple dish in which your slow cooker does all of the work. And, as is usually the case with slow-cooked meats, the leftovers are delicious.
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WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS
This slow-cooker recipe has been a favorite of mine this winter. It’s rich, tasty, and comforting, and it’s incredibly simple – a true hands-off recipe.
It’s even better than pot roast, in my opinion. Which is saying a lot because I adore pot roast. This meat, on the other hand, comes out even more tender and flavorful.
Beef cheeks are a tough meat cut. This is not a cut you want to sear quickly. They are, however, incredible when properly cooked, which means slow-cooked.
The meat becomes extremely rich, and it’s so tender that you could eat it with a spoon. It’s a filling entree that my entire family enjoys.
Alternative Version: Tender Slow Cooked Beef Cheeks for Taco Video
WHAT ARE BEEF CHEEKS?
Beef cheeks are the cheek muscle of cows and are a tough cut of meat that must be cooked long and slow to become tender.
It absorbs the flavors of the braising liquid well and is stringy when cut, almost like pulled pork.
But, unlike beef chuck (used for Beef Stew and Pot Roast), brisket, and even beef short ribs, which have patches of really juicy sections as well as some that can (occasionally) be a little dry, no part of the beef cheek is dry.
Every bite is juicy and luscious, and even writing this post makes my mouth water!
INGREDIENTS YOU’LL NEED
The ingredients list for this recipe is delightfully short. The precise measurements can be found in the recipe card below. Here’s a rundown of what you’ll need:
- Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, reduce the amount used or the dish will be too salty.
- I like to use onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and ground cumin as spices.
- Cooking with Red Wine: My Slow Cooked Beef Cheeks recipe calls for a classic Italian red wine braising liquid. Red wine’s deep, warm, and complex flavors are ideal for use as the stock base for slow-cooked beef dishes.
The challenge with cooking cheeks is that they are deliciously flavorful but also fairly lean and tough. The cow’s chewing produces some tough muscle tissue!
Cooking them low and slow with moist heat is the only way to make them edible – and delicious.
You can’t simply roast or pan-fry them, for example. Slow cooking, on the other hand, transforms their tough meat into a wonderfully melt-in-your-mouth, rich and flavorful dish.
The recipe card below contains step-by-step instructions for making this dish. Here are the fundamental steps:
- In a small bowl, combine the salt and spices.
- Layer the meat in your slow cooker, sprinkling some of the spices on each layer.
- Cook on LOW for 8 hours, covered.
- Cooking liquids should be thickened. Cook for 30 minutes on high after incorporating a cornstarch slurry into the liquids.
- Serve the tender meat with the tasty pan sauce on the side. Perfection!
Leftovers keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. I reheat them in the microwave, covered, on 50% power.
I sometimes shred the leftover meat and use it to top my next day’s lunch salad. I also put it in a sandwich wrap.
I don’t add any liquid to the slow cooker pan before cooking, as you can see. As it cooks, the meat exudes a lot of liquid.
If you add liquid before cooking, the meat will basically boil inside the slow cooker. That’s not what you’re looking for. You’d like it to braise.
However, if you’re concerned about sticking, it’s not a bad idea to add a small amount of beef broth to the slow cooker pan – no more than 12 cups.
Frequently Asked Questions
They are the cow’s cheek muscle, also known as ox cheeks. This meat is extremely tough; after all, this is a muscle that the cow constantly uses to chew. The only proper way to cook it is low and slow, which results in a wonderfully rich and tender dish.
Because it’s a slow-cooked meat with a deep, rich flavor, it’s comparable to slow-cooked cuts like oxtails or pot roast. Despite the fact that it has a distinct flavor and texture.
Maybe you didn’t cook them long enough, or maybe you tried a dry cooking method like roasting. The only way to get them consistently tender is to cook them low and slow with a moist cooking method like braising. The slow cooker is ideal for this.
Because it is a popular cut, this muscle is ideal for appetizers, stews, soups, sandwiches, and main courses. When a cow chews with its cheek muscle, it produces dense muscle that, when properly cut by a good butcher, becomes very tender after cooking.
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