This beef cheek ragu can serve 6 people if served whole, but up to 10 people if chunky shredded and served with gnocchi like I did, so it's a great dinner party dish. And what is the best thing about this is, after about 30 minutes of prep work, you pop it in the oven and you can forget about it for 3 1/2 hours. The final 30 minutes you just simmer it, if needed, to your liking for thickness of sauce.
I doubled my gnocchi recipe and dinner was amazing.
Beef cheeks, when cooked gently, are one of the most delicious parts of the whole animal. I absolutely love them, they are so soft and tasty, when cooked well, they are my favourite thing to eat.
I served it shredded into large chunks with gnocchi but the beef cheeks would also be amazing served whole with mashed potato, crusty bread or soft polenta, or even shredded tossed with freshly cooked pasta.
I used fresh thyme as I love it, but you can use herbs you like such as sage, bay, rosemary, basil or parsley.
This is rich, tasty and easy to make. You really need to try this.
20 g dried porcini mushrooms
6 beef cheeks , trimmed
150g piece of smoked pancetta, cut into lardons
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 red onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, diced
8 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
6 sprigs of thyme
500ml red wine
1 teaspoon vegeta
1 x 680g jar of tomato passata
Preheat the oven to 160ºC/140C fan forced.
Cover the porcini with boiling kettle water and leave to rehydrate.
Season the beef cheeks with sea salt and black pepper, then brown them, in batches, in a large casserole pan on a high heat with a splash of oil, turning until well coloured all over. When browned, remove the cheeks to a plate, set aside, until needed.
To the same pan add the pancetta, add more oil, if needed, stirring until the pancetta is lightly golden. Drain the porcini, reserving the liquor, then roughly chop them and add them to the pan with the celery, onions, carrots, garlic and thyme sprigs. Fry for 15 minutes, or until soft, stirring occasionally.
Pour in the wine, let it reduce by half, then pour in the reserved porcini water (discarding just the last gritty bit), vegeta and the tomato passata. Fill the passata bottle with water and pour into the pan. Return beef cheeks to the pan, make sure it is covered by the liquid. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with a lid, bring to the boil.
Cook in the oven for 3 1/2 hours, or until the meat is outrageously tender and the sauce has thickened. If needed, for an additional 30 minutes, simmer the ragu on the stovetop, uncovered, until it has thickened to your liking. Taste the sauce and season, if needed, then serve up however you wish, shredded or whole on whatever side you love.
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