These Thai Braised Beef Cheeks are one of my signature dinner party dishes. They are ridiculously easy to make and the end result is luxuriously rich, melt in your mouth meat.
Simply brown the beef cheeks, then place all of the ingredients in your slow cooker. Flick the switch, walk down to Casa Del Lygon (AKA the ‘House of Trouser’) to watch the AFL Grand Final (only to have it result in a draw!) and drink far too many beers, followed by far too many G&Ts. 8 hours later when you finally walk back in the door, dinner is ready.
Don’t be put off sourcing beef cheeks either – they are the new lamb shanks, except they are très thrifty (which is French for cheap). Only $4.50 a kilo from the markets or your local butcher. I get mine from the Meat Hall at the Queen Victoria Markets. Ask your butcher to trim the jowl (lower part of the beef cheeks), as this makes preparing this dish even easier.
The recipe below has been modified from a Valli Little recipe from the book ‘Faking It’. It serves at least 6 people.
Thai Braised Beef Cheeks
- 4 or 5 beef cheeks, trimmed
- 1/2 cup plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil
- 2 large brown onions, thinly sliced
- 4 cm piece galangal, sliced into thin matchsticks
- 4 cm piece ginger, sliced into thin matchsticks (Note: If you cannot source galangal, just double the amount of ginger used)
- 2 lemongrass stems (pale part only), thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup tamarind paste (Note: You can find this in most Asian grocery shops)
- 2 or 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- small handful of coriander stems (roots and all), thouroughly washed to remove all dirt and grit and finely chopped
- 3 hot chillies, thinly sliced (Note: I leave the seeds in, but if you do not like spicy food you may want to remove the seeds)
- 3 or 4 kaffir lime leaves, crush in your hands before adding to the dish to release the lime oils
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1/2 cup fish sauce (or soy sauce if you prefer)
- 3 cups water
- Place the sliced onions, lemongrass, chilli, galangal, ginger, garlic, coriander stems and crushed kaffir lime leaves in the bottom of a slow cooker.
- Slice each beef cheek into two even sized pieces. Coat each piece of meat in the seasoned flour.
- Heat the oil in a heavy based pan over medium-high heat. In batches (of about 3 to 4 pieces of meat depending on the size of your pan), brown the beef for 2 or 3 minutes on each side until crispy and golden brown. Make sure that your beef is well browned to ensure that it does not look grey and unappetising after slow cooking.
- Arrange the browned beef cheeks on top of the sliced vegetables.
- Add tamarind paste, brown sugar, fish sauce and water to the slow cooker.
- Cook on the slow cooker’s ‘Low Setting’ for 8 hours. I personally like to start the cooking on ‘High’ for an hour or two, then reduce the heat to ‘Low’. (Note: If you don’t have a slow cooker, you could cook this dish in a casserole dish in the oven on 170 degrees for 3 hours and 30 minutes).
- Serve with Coconut Rice and Asian Herb and Cucumber Salad on the side, plus lots of red wine.