Movida’s Slow-Cooked Beef Cheeks in Pedro Ximenez

IMG_1316Winter is just made for slow cooking – cheap cuts of meat, cooking away all afternoon and filling the kitchen with the most amazing smells, and a hearty warming dinner at the end of it all.  It makes the cold almost bearable!


But I have to admit last winter we got a little bit jaded with slow cooking, largely because so many of the slow cooking dishes are tomato based and end up tasting very much the same.

There’s a richness and intensity of flavour that is so recognisable and familiar that we found ourselves looking at the slow cooker, then at each other, and then reaching for something else in the pantry.

So we were both pretty excited with this recipe, by  MoVida’s Frank Camorra. We’ve both eaten at Movida in Melbourne, and I have a soft spot for Movida in Sydney after a couple of lovely lunches and afterwork drinks there with friends, so there’s that emotional glow you get from recreating one of the meals from a restaurant fave. The other big plus is that there’s no tomato in the dish, so none of that hyper-intensive taste profile that jades your palate so quickly. This is instead just a  gorgeous, rustic stew that I would happily serve at a winter dinner party for much-loved friends.

And if you need more encouragement, Aldi is currently selling beef cheeks at the absolutely ridiculous price of  $6 or so for 600 grams. Delicious, simple, tasty and cheap – you really can’t ask for a lot more than that! I don’t like the mouthfeel of any kind of puree or mash, so at the risk of being sacrilegious, we served this with panfried polenta squares (to mop up the delicious cooking jus) and beans with garlic and lemon (perfect for cutting through the richness). The recipe – with the intended cauliflower puree – follows.

Beef Cheeks in Pedro Ximenez

movida_logoServes 6

  • 1.5 kg (3 lb 5 oz) beef cheeks
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) olive oil
  • 3 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic bulb, halved
  • 1 brown onion, sliced
  • 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) Pedro Ximenez sherry
  • 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) red wine
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 185 ml (6 fl oz/¾ cup) cream
  • 40g (1 ½ oz) butter


1. Trim the beef cheeks to neaten them up and remove any sinew and silver skin. Season well.

2. Heat half the olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over high heat. Brown the beef cheeks for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden, then remove from the pan.

3. Add the remaining olive oil, then add the carrot, garlic and onion and sauté over high heat for 12-15 minutes, or until well browned. Stir in the sherry, wine, bay leaves, thyme, sea salt and 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) water.

4. Reduce the heat as low as possible, add the beef cheeks, then cover and cook for 3-4 hours, or until the cheeks are beginning to fall apart.

5. Meanwhile, put the cauliflower, cream and butter in a saucepan, season to taste with salt, then cover and cook over low heat for 35 minutes, or until very tender. Place the cauliflower mixture in a blender and process until smooth. Keep the puree warm.

6. The sauce from the beef cheeks should by now be reduced and glaze-like. If it needs further reducing, remove the cheeks from the pan, cover with foil to keep them warm and simmer the sauce over high heat until nicely reduced. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve and return to the pan; gently reheat the cheeks in the sauce if necessary.

Serve the cheeks and their sauce on warm plates with the cauliflower puree on the side.



~ by swalloworspit on July 14, 2013.

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