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Beef Cheeks, Braised
  -   Joues de Boeuf Confites
6 main  
2-1/2 days  
Beef Cheeks are tender, moist and delicious cooked this way. This is a "chef dish" and a bit of a production, but it's not really difficult. It can be done in stages, most of it even a day ahead - and it's a complete dinner - no side dishes needed (though a salad before or after would be nice). See Commentary.



Beef Cheeks (1)  
-- Marinade
Thyme sprig
Bay Leaf
Wine, dry red
Salt, Kosher (2)
Calf's Foot (3)
Beef Stock
-- Accompaniment
Mushrooms (4)
Carrots, small
Tiny Onions (5)
Large Pasta (6)
Prep   -   (1 to 2 days - 20 min work)
  1. Trim BEEF CHEEKS as needed (weight given is after trimming)
  2. Chop ONIONS small. Dice CELERY small. Crush GARLIC lightly.
  3. Mix all Marinade items and massage into beef. Package in a non-reactive bowl or 2 mil polyethylene bag. Stash in the fridge for at least 1 day, preferably 2 days. Turn now and then.
Run   -   (5 hrs - 1 hr work)
  1. Fish Beef Cheeks out of the marinade. Drain well, brush off the solids and pat dry with paper towels. Keep all the marinade, including solids.
  2. Rub Beef Cheeks lightly with salt and pepper.
  3. In heavy bottomed non-reactive pot or Dutch oven that will hold at least 4 quarts, melt Butter and fry Beef Cheeks in batches until lightly browned, being careful not to burn the butter. Remove and set aside as they are done (See Note-7).
  4. After all the Beef Cheeks are removed, add to the pot the reserved marinade, the Beef Stock and Calf Foot. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  5. Tuck the Beef Cheeks into the pot. Cover tightly, bring to a boil and simmer slowly until cheeks are tender (about 3-1/2 hours) - or, see Note-8. Turn the cheeks over every 45 minutes or so.
Meanwhile:   -   (45 min - 25 min work)
  1. Cut Bacon into about 1/4 inch cubes and fry until almost getting crisp. Drain and set aside (hold some of the fat).
  2. Stem Mushrooms and cut in half, or however is appropriate for the kind of mushrooms you are using. Steam until just cooked through. Mix with Bacon.
  3. Peel Carrots and cut into about 3/4 inch chunks. Steam until tender. Mix with Mushrooms.
  4. Scald Onions in boiling water 1 minute, then quench in cold water. Cut a little off the top and peel back the dry layers. Cut as little as you can from the root end so they hold together. Steam until just cooked through. Mix with Mushrooms.
  5. Cook Pasta the usual way until al dente - don't overcook! Tumble with a few drops of the bacon fat and mix with the Mushrooms.
Finish   -   (45 min - 20 min work)
  1. Fish out the Beef Cheeks and set aside.
  2. Strain the liquid through a fine strainer. Discard the solids (well, not the calf feet, which are very tasty at this point. They can be either set aside as a snack for the cook, or the recoverable material can be cut from the bones and added to the cheeks.
  3. Defat the sauce using your gravy separator, then simmer it down to the amount you will need (see Commentary). Keep hot.
  4. Cut Beef Cheeks as desired. Arrange with the Pasta mix, cover with foil and warm it all back up in a 350°/175°C oven for about 15 minutes.
  5. Pour sauce over and serve hot.
  1. Beef Cheeks:   Weight is after trimming excess fat. Do not over-trim connective tissue. To get 4 pounds trimmed, you'll need to buy about 6-1/2 pounds untrimmed. For details see our Beef Cheeks page.
  2. Kosher Salt:   In most cases there is no purpose to using kosher salt - if you don't want iodine, there's plenty of regular no-iodine salt. For coating meat though, that's what kosher salt was invented for. Diamond Crystal brand is best because it is fluffier.
  3. Calf Foot:   Any ethnic meat market should have these, and even some supermarkets. If not already sawed up, have the butcher saw it into medium size pieces. This is expected, so there should be no charge. For details see our Calf Foot page.
  4. Mushrooms   Regular white mushrooms can be used, but I use King Trumpet mushrooms which I prefer for both flavor and texture. Others, of course, can also be used. For details see our Fungus page.
  5. Tiny Onions:   The pattern recipe calls for "pearl onions", but I find these rather tedious to deal with. I go to one of the markets that has a bin of Boiling Onions, and pick out the smallest ones to use for recipes like this.
  6. Large Pasta:   The pattern recipe called for "large shells", but I prefer a pasta with more shape integrity, so I used medium pipes.
  7. Browning:   How do you tell if something almost black to start with is "lightly browned"? The surface will become a little dry and a little stiff.
  8. Method:   The pattern recipe set up the meats and stock as above, but cooked in a 325°F/165°C oven for 4 hours, turning the Cheeks every hour. I simmered this on the stove top where I could monitor it closely, and that worked just as well.
  9. Commentary:   If you have some other vegetable side dish this could be simplified to just the pasta dressed with the bacon and some bacon fat. In my opinion, the sauce could use a little thickening with roux. A tablespoon of flour could be fried lightly in a tablespoon of the bacon fat, chilled and added bit by bit as the sauces is simmered down, until you get the consistency you want.
  10. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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