What Is Beef Cheek and How Do You Cook It Properly?

Beef cheek meat may sound like a delicacy, but you do not have to go to an expensive restaurant to try it. Beef cheek recipes can be prepared right at home in your own kitchen without the hefty price of a restaurant. All you need is an inspiration to take a step away from your borning meat menu. Working with beef cheeks allows you to vary away from your regular menu, and take on the melt-in-your-mouth cuts called beef cheeks. Ideal in stews, hearty soups, and alone, this particular dish is popular with professional chefs, and home cooks as well. But still, home-cooks all over the country are asking, “What are the best beef cheek recipes?”

What Is a Beef Cheek?

Beef cheeks are a cut from the facial area of the animal, around the muscle the cow uses to chew. There is a lot of sinews when these cuts first make it to the butcher shop where they trim the cuts down for a cleaner looking cut. This muscle makes a good cut for appetizers, stews, soups, sandwiches, and main dishes because it is a highly used muscle. When the cow uses the cheek muscle to chew they can create dense muscle that becomes very tender after cooking when it is cut properly by a good butcher.

Where Should I Buy Beef Cheeks?

The unique texture of beef cheeks is what makes them a desirable cut. However, before you purchase any beef cuts it is important that you visit a butcher. Talk about the size you need considering the amount the cut will shrink with cooking. For example, a good butcher will already know that each raw cut between 350 g to 400 g is going to shrink back down to 250 to 300 g. If you want to test the butcher go ahead, and ask them if they know how much shrinkage a beef cheek will experience. Depending on their answer, you may find that the butcher is qualified to buy from them. 

Most butchers will need a few days to notice before buying a cut so that they can deliver a piece of meat that is completely trimmed, and packaged. However, if you are shopping around for a new butcher shrinkage, weight, and timing are all good topics to discuss to find out if they are the right butcher for you. Generally, beef cheeks are considered to be a specialty cut, but they are usually affordable. 

Remember: A good butcher is invaluable when it comes to coping with beef cheeks. After all, there are only two of these cuts per animal, and so they are considered to be a specialty item. If you want to get great beef cheeks, find a good butcher, and start forming a relationship with them so you can always know when beef cheeks are in stock.  

Traditional German Raw Beef Cheeks

How to Cook Beef Cheeks

Beef cheeks are commonly cooked slowly with herbs and spices. They can also be served as part of a meal with a side dish, or in a soup, or hearty stew. You may also decide to prepare beef cheeks in your slow cooker to make them extra-tender, and serve them inside of hot rolls, with cheese, and vegetables as a sandwich. You may also prepare the beef cheeks with this simple recipe, and store them for later use in any recipe you like. 

Stovetop Beef Cheeks Recipe 

Here is one simple way you can make stovetop beef cheeks in your own kitchen. 

You will need:

  • Frying pan with lid
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ½ cup of water
  • Cutting board

To prepare:

Place the frying pan on the stovetop on a low-medium heat setting. Then, pour in the water and place the lid on top of the pan. Remove the beef cheeks from the packaging, and place them in the pan. Replace the lid, and allow the steam to soften the cuts. Then, after two minutes, remove the lid, and drizzle in EVOO, adding more water if needed to maintain steam. Replace the lid, and allow the cuts to cook for 3 minutes, then remove the lid to flip each cheek. Replace the lid, adding more EVOO to the pan to sear the opposite side of the cheeks. After 3 minutes, remove the lid to check the texture of the cheeks. Depending on how you desire the tenderness of the beef cheeks to be, replace the lid, and continue cooking until they reach the desired range. Add cooking spices like black pepper, and salt before plating. 

What Do Beef Cheeks Taste Like? 

There are so many ways to enhance the flavor of beef cheeks however, you will never know until you experiment on your own what works best. For example, one of the most popular ways to prepare beef cheeks is with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and spices as mentioned above, but you can also add anything you like into the mix. Try any of these herbs when cooking beef cheeks to bring out more meaty flavor: rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano, turmeric, and ginger. As with other beef cuts, these juicy muscles are suited for pairing with potatoes, leafy green salad, and red wine. 

You may decide that cooking beef cheeks at home is a great way to spice up your menu. Go ahead, and get started with this basic stovetop recipe for beef cheeks. If you want to continue to make different recipes including side dishes, sandwiches, mains, and more, share them with your friends, and family! There is no better way to grow as a home-chef than by sharing your favorite recipes.