Beef Cheeks in red wine with carrots and mashed potato

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February 10, 2017 by dgarnett2013

Beef Cheeks in red wine with carrots and mashed potato: The Cook’s Table by Stephanie Alexander


NOTE: Start the night before


Serves 6


  • 6 beef cheeks
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tabs brandy
  • 6 turnips, cut into bite-sized chunks OR parnsips
  • 6 medium-large carrots, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • bouquet garni of bay leaf, thyme and flat-leaf parsley stalks tied with kitchen twine
  • 2 cups beef/ veal/ chicken stock, or as needed to barely cover
  • freshly ground black pepper



  • 1 x 100g piece smoked bacon cut into 2cm x 1cm lardons
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 6 stalks flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 2 wide pieces orange zest
  • 4 cloves garlic, bruised
  • 5 juniper berries
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 cups red wine


Mashed Potato

  • 1kg Nicola or Desiree potatoes, peeled and cut into even-sized chunks
  • salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


If your butcher has not already done so, strip the touch membrane from the beef cheeks – as you would skin a fish fillet. i.e. Slip a sharp knife between the membrane the flesh, hold the membrane tightly with one hand and zigzag the knife close to the chopping board and along the beef cheek. Discard the membrane.

Place the skinned cheeks in a large glass bowl and add the marinade ingredients: bacon, onion, carrot, thyme, parsley, bay leaf, orange zest, garlic, juniper, peppercorns and red wine.

Stir to mix, then cover with cling film and refrigerate overnight.

Next day: Place a colander over a large bowl, then drain the meat and marinade, reserving the liquid.

Extract the cheeks and bacon lardons and pat dry with paper towel. Discard the vegetables, herbs, orange zest, garlic and spices.

Heat one-third of the olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan over high heat and, working in batches, seal the cheeks for 5 mins or until well coloured on both sides.

Add the brandy and carefully tilt the pan to light the brandy and turn the meat; take care as the brandy will flame.

Transfer to an enamelled cast-iron casserole. Continue until all meat is browned and flamed.

Brown the lardons for 5 mins and transfer to the casserole.

Preheat the oven to 140℃.

Tip the strained marinade into the frying pan, then bring to the boil over high heat and boil for 10 mins or until reduced by half. Pour into the casserole.

Add the turnip or parsnip, carrot, bouquet garni and enough stock to barely cover, then season with pepper. Cover with a doubled sheet of baking paper and the lid and cook in the oven for 2½ – 3 hours until the cheeks are very tender. Leave to cool.

To make the mashed potato: put the potato into a pan with lightly salted cold water.

Bring the simmering point over a medium heat and cook until the potato is completely tender when tested with a fine skewer.

Meanwhile, bring the milk to the boil in a small heavy-based saucepan.

Drain the potato and return to the pan over medium heat for a moment to dry off any moisture.

Press the potato, a few chunks at a time, through a potato ricer into a stainless steel bowl. Whisk in the butter, then the boiling milk.

Press the potato puree through a medium-mesh sieve, using the pestle from your mortar or a strong, flexible scraper to remover any last little lumps; the mashed potato should be reasonably fluid – if it is too thick add a little extra hot milk.

Season with salt and potato to taste. (Mashed potato can be made well in advance and refrigerated, then reheated in a steamer over simmering water until hot).

Spoon off and discard any solidified fat on the surface of the casserole; there will be very little if any.

Reheat gently over low heat. If the sauce is too thin, pour it into a heavy-based saucepan, then boil rapidly over high heat, skimming off any froth that rises to the surface, until reduced and sticky; you want enough to moisten the meat very generously and to flow a little into the mashed potato.

Return the reduced sauce to the casserole and stir to mix.

Spoon mashed potato onto the centre of each warm plate, then place a beef cheek on top and pour the sauce over and around, like a moat; make sure you distribute the vegetables and lardons evenly.

Serve with a green salad.

Eaten as winter began to wane, along with the flowers from the forced bulbs.

febflowers2 febflowers1

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