Serves 4

Put your feet up and let your stove top do all the work – these beef cheeks will transform into delicious melting moments with minimum cooking effort. 

What you’ll need

  • 4 beef cheeks, about 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) in total
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) olive oil
  • 1 large brown onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 large thyme sprigs
  • 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) shiraz or full-bodied red wine
  • 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) beef stock
  • 1–2 tablespoons vincotto, or sticky good-quality balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • Chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, to serve
  • Creamy mashed potato, soft polenta or cooked pasta, to serve

Season and braise the cheeks

Season the beef cheeks on both sides with sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper.

Heat a large heavy-based saucepan or flameproof casserole dish until hot. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and brown the beef cheeks over high heat for a good 3–4 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate.

Make the stew

Add the remaining oil to the pan. Reduce the heat to low and cook the onion, garlic, carrot and celery for 5–7 minutes, until softened.
Return the beef to the pan. Add the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Pour in the wine and stock, then put the lid on. Bring to a simmer and cook over low heat for 3 hours, or until the beef cheeks are starting to fall apart.

Remove the lid. Simmer, uncovered, for a further 20–25 minutes,
or until the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly. During this time, taste the sauce and add the vincotto or balsamic vinegar for a more intense, sweet flavour, if desired.

Serve with accompaniment

Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs, stripping off the thyme leaves and stirring them back into the stew. Scatter the parsley over and serve with your choice of accompaniment.

Recipe from Low & Slow: Comfort Food for Cold Nights by Louise Franc. Published by ($ AU 39.99 and NZ $46.99). Out May.