This succulent beef cheek ragù is a one-pot dish that will buoy your spirits in wet winter days. While simple, this is not a quick dish to make. This is a languorous way to enjoy a few hours of cooking and tasting while you read a book or listen to music in the ebb. The end result is a flavoursome textural delight with beef that splits at a sigh and is packed with nutrition.
So, without further ado, let’s begin!
1kg beef cheeks
salt and black pepper
2 garlic heads
2kg carrots chopped
1 celery bunch
4 rosemary sprigs
25g fresh sage
1 cup dry red wine
3-4 400g tins of tomatoes
Preheat oven to 135°C.
Chop your onions coarsely, thinly coat your French oven’s bottom with olive oil and set a hob on a low heat then add and begin caramelising the onions, stirring occasionally and adding small amounts of water to stop them from burning.
While the onions sweeten, cut the beef cheeks into chunks and liberally coat them with salt and pepper and set aside. Then peel and halve your garlic cloves. If you’re as slow and lumbering as me, you may opt to just lop the heads in half and eschew peeling entirely. If anyone complains you can tell them they just can’t appreciate the rustic honesty of your dish. Wash your carrots, lop off their tops and chop them into thick rounds for a little more rustic honesty, then repeat the process with the celery, discarding leaves and halving from the base to the point it tapers into the stalk chopping into similarly sized pieces.
When the onions have been on for 45 minutes and have caramelised, add the meat and garlic to the pot.
Time to prepare your herbs now. Cut the sage’s woodier stalks away and bin them, then chop into segments roughly the width of your finger. I often use scissors for this despite the superior speed of a knife or mezzaluna.
When the meat is no longer raw, add the carrots, celery and herbs. Increase the hob’s heat to medium-low stir the vegetables to the bottom as best you can then add the cup of wine (which should be in a bag and the cheapest you can find above rotgut) and cover for about 10 minutes to soften the vegetables. After that 10 minutes remove the lid and simmer for a further 5 to reduce the wine a little.
Now add your tomatoes to the stew, bring it to a simmer again, taste it and adjust seasoning as needed with salt and pepper.
Make sure all your chunks of meat are submerged, pop the lid on, and slide it into the oven.
Now you kick back and enjoy the scent rolling from the oven for the next 3-6 hours. The longer the better.
Serve upon any seawater-cooked pasta or rice with grated parmesan and a drizzling of extra virgin olive oil.