How often do you get to say the words "beef cheeks" and "romantic dinner" in the same sentence? Well, now you can! This recipe elevates cheeks of beef to fine dining status. If cheeks are not available, then oxtail, beef shoulder, or shank will do.

Ingredients

  • 3 Cup Red wine
  • 2 Carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 Stalks celery with leaves, sliced
  • 4 Cloves garlic, germ removed
  • 2 Fresh bay leaves
  • 1 Large sprig rosemary
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Black peppercorns
  • 3 Pound Beef cheeks, trimmed
  • Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoon Beef dripping or lard
  • 2 Teaspoon Red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 Calf’s foot, prepared (optional)

Preparation

Step 1:

Pour the wine into a large saucepan and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat so the wine bubbles gently. Tip the saucepan slightly away from you and, using a long match, light the wine. Once the flames die out, light it again, and keep lighting it until it no longer flames. Pour the wine into a large bowl (there should be about 21/2 cups / 625 ml). Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaves, rosemary, and peppercorns. Set aside to cool.

Step 2:

Cut the beef cheeks into 2 or 3 pieces so that all the pieces are the same size. Place in the marinade, cover, and refrigerate overnight, turning a couple of times if possible.

Step 3:

Remove the cheeks from the marinade, pat them dry, and season with salt and pepper. Strain the marinade, keeping the liquid and the solids separate.

Step 4:

Preheat the oven to 300°F / 150°C.

Step 5:

In a heavy flameproof casserole or Dutch oven, melt half the fat over medium-high heat. When the fat is hot, add the cheeks in batches and brown. Transfer the cheeks to a plate. Lower the heat, add the vegetables, herbs, and peppercorns from the marinade, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until they soften.

Step 6:

Pour in the reserved marinade liquid and bring to a boil. Return the cheeks with any juices to the pan, add the calf’s foot, and return to a boil. Cover the meat with a piece of wet parchment paper and the lid, transfer to the oven, and cook for 3 to 4 hours, or until the cheeks are very tender.

Step 7:

Transfer the cheeks and the foot to a plate. Strain the cooking liquid through a sieve into a bowl, pressing on the vegetables to extract all the juice; discard the solids. Let the cooking liquid stand for 5 minutes, then skim off the fat and set the fat aside for another use.

Step 8:

Return the cooking liquid to the pan and bring to a boil. Continue to boil until the liquid coats the back of a spoon. Meanwhile, cut the meat and skin from the calf’s foot into small dice; discard the bones. Return the cheeks and diced foot to the reduced sauce and reheat gently. Add the vinegar and taste, adding more salt, pepper, and/or vinegar if necessary. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.