November 10, 2014

Braised Beef Cheeks with Creamy Parmesan Polenta

I made these beef cheeks for the first time a couple months ago... and we loved them so very much that I have made then 4 times since then! I had heard all the hype about how amazing they were and after finally hunting some down, I set on a mission to see if they were really as good as everyone says they are. If you live in a bigger city I'm pretty sure these are easy to find... you might not find them in your local grocery store though. I had to call my local butcher and he didn't have any on hand... but was able to get them for me within a day or so. I had done some research on how to cook these beauties and found that low and slow braising was the way to go. I used my usual short rib recipe to cook them and I was so pleased... I liked them even better than short ribs, personally.

My cheeks came in large pieces and had a good bit of tough fat and sinew on them... it was easy enough to clean and trim off though and I suggest you do the same. There is enough fat marbled through the meat that you don't need to worry about them being too lean. Look at those beautiful pieces of beef! So pretty! One cheek easily fed 2 people.

This was the veg after the cheeks were finished braising. Gorgeous isn't it? Just look at that delicious liquid! It was absolutely rich and amazing once the veg was strained out and the liquid was reduced. Dark and jammy and decadent.

The meat was so tender it felt apart into moist, flavorful shreds that were absolutely divine over the creamy polenta. This meal is definitely one I will make again and again. Impressive but not at all difficult. And just wait until you smell it braising in the oven... you won't be able to wait for dinner. It's heavenly!

Braised Beef Cheeks with Creamy Parmesan Polenta

Ingredients for the Braised Beef Cheeks:

4 beef cheeks, cleaned and cut into halves
Salt and pepper to season the cheeks before cooking
Olive oil for browning the cheeks and sautéing the vegetables
4 anchovy fillets
8 cloves garlic, sliced
2 carrots, chopped
2 small onions, diced
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 leeks, chopped
6 sprigs thyme
16 black peppercorns
4 Tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 bottle red wine (I used a Barolo)
6 cups chicken stock
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1: Clean the beef cheeks of any sinew. Cut each cheek in half. Season well with salt and pepper.

2: Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed Dutch oven over medium high heat and brown cheeks on all sides. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

3: Add a little more oil if needed and add anchovy, garlic, carrot, onion, celery and leek and sauté until nicely browned.

4: Lower heat to medium. Add thyme and peppercorns, stir well.

5: Add the tomato paste and continue stirring over medium heat for 5 minutes.

6: Slowly pour in the red wine while scraping the delicious browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot.

7: Cook for 15-20 minutes until the liquid is reduced by half.

8: Return browned beef cheeks to the pot with the wine reduction and veg. Cover with chicken stock and bring to a boil.

9: Once boiling, skim the surface of any foamy muck.

10: Cover the surface with a circle of parchment paper and the Dutch oven’s lid and place in a preheated 300*F oven for 2 1/2 hours until tender and falling apart.

11: Remove from the oven and add balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce.

12: Transfer the beef cheeks to a plate, covering with foil to remain warm.

13: Strain the liquid of its vegetables and return the leftover liquid to the pot.

14: Over medium heat, reduce the remaining liquid by 1/3 to 1/2.

15: Remove from heat. Return the beef cheeks to the reduced liquid and cover to reheat while you make the polenta.

Ingredients for Creamy Parmesan Polenta

3 cups chicken stock
3 cups heavy cream
1 and 1/2 cup yellow polenta
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt, if needed

Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for serving
Shaved Parmesan for serving

1: Combine the chicken stock and heavy cream in a heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil.

2: Reduce heat to low and pour the polenta into the stock and cream mixture slowly, whisking as you pour to thoroughly combine.

3: Whisk constantly while the polenta cooks for about 10 minutes, until the liquid is completely absorbed.

4: Remove from heat and gently stir in the cheese and butter. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed.

To Serve:
Mound a large spoonful of polenta in the center of a flat bowl. Top with a piece of the beef cheek and spoon over some of the cooking liquid. Garnish with shaved Parmesan and chopped flat leaf parsley.

Makes 8-10 servings.


  1. This looks like the ultimate in comfort food dishes. Served over creamy Parmesan polenta? Stick a fork in me...I'm done. I wish you could hear my stomach growling as I looked at your pictures!
    Renee - Kudos Kitchen

  2. GUUUURL....This looks SOOOOOO good!

  3. This looks outrageous! I had beef cheeks for the first time in Seattle, several years ago, and they are divine. And that polenta? Just hand me the pot and a big spoon, girlie!

    1. Handing it on over :) <3 thank you Renee!

  4. yummy! I have never made them but they look good!

    1. come on over Marye... I'll make some for you :)


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