Slow Cooked Beef Cheek Casserole

This rich and hearty casserole is perfect for winter and while the ingredient list may look long, it is simple to make and can be made well ahead of time.
While we have used beef cheeks you can of course use any other stewing steak.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.2kg (2.64 oz) beef cheeks, cut into 4-5cm pieces
  • 2 1/2 cups (625ml) beef stock
  • 10 small pickling sized onions, peeled but with roots left intact
  • 2 medium sized carrots, diced
  • 1 large stalk celery, sliced
  • 2 slices streaky bacon, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 cups (500ml/16.9 fluid oz) full bodied red wine
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 250g (8.8 oz) button mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons thyme leaves
  • flour and butter or flour and water for thickening as needed

Method

Heat the oven to 150 C (300 F).
Place a large frying pan over a high heat, add a film of oil and brown the cheeks in batches until well coloured all over.  Transfer to a casserole and pour over the stock.
Add the onions to the pan and allow to colour a little before adding them to the casserole.
Reduce the heat, add a splash more oil and gently cook the celery, carrots, bacon and garlic for around 10 minutes until the celery starts to soften.  Add the contents of the pan to the meat and onions.
Return the pan to heat, increase the temperature, add the red wine and allow to bubble and reduce by half.  Stir in the tomato paste and then pour into the casserole.
Cover the casserole and place in the oven.  Cook for 3 – 3 1/2 hour until the meat is tender.  Stir a couple of times during cooking.  Add extra stock or water if needed.
Once the casserole is almost cooked then melt the butter in a small frying pan over a medium – high heat, add the mushrooms and thyme and quickly cook until well coloured.
Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper and then add to the casserole.
Thicken the liquid as necessary with flour mixed into a little cooled liquid or flour kneaded with equal quantities of butter.  If doing the latter simply drop small balls of kneaded butter and flour into the liquid, leave for a few minutes and then gently stir.  Butter and flour thickening helps to maintain a glossy sauce, flour and water thickening can make the sauce dull.

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