Beef Cheeks with Parmesan Polenta

, from Issue #91. June, 2020
Photography by Josh Griggs.
Beef Cheeks with Parmesan Polenta

This is a great dish for a cold winter's night. The beef cheeks are slow-cooked in a rich red wine sauce until tender and falling apart. Serve with creamy parmesan polenta and a glass of red.

Serves: 4


1 tablespoon olive oil
700 grams beef cheeks
knob of butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 sticks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, peeled, sliced into discs
1 large parsnip, peeled, sliced into discs
300ml red wine
2 cups good-quality beef stock
1 tablespoon brown sugar
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 dried bay leaves
sea salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons finely
chopped parsley

Parmesan polenta
200 grams polenta
1 litre water
1 tablespoon sea salt
knob of butter
½ cup finely grated parmesan


Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celcius.

Place a heavy-based casserole dish on the stove top on a medium high heat. Add the olive oil and beef cheeks and brown the cheeks on all sides. Remove the cheeks to a dish and set aside.

Reduce the heat to a low-medium and add the butter, onion and celery. Fry until the onions are soft and turning golden brown. Add the garlic, carrot and parsnip and fry for a further 2 minutes. 

Add the beef cheeks, red wine, beef stock, brown sugar, thyme, bay leaves and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer then cover and place in the oven for 4 hours. Check on it regularly to make sure it's nt becoming too dry or catching on the bottom. If so, add 1/4  cup of water and stir.

Once the meat is tender and falling apart, remove the lid and let the liquid reduce for 30 minutes. 

Polenta: Place the water and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Slowly pour in the polenta, whisking continuously as you do to avoid lumps forming. Reduce heat and continue to stir until you feel the polenta thickening. 

Cook for 20 minutes or until soft and thickened, stirring every 5 minutes. Stir through the butter and parmesan then remove from the heat. 

To serve: Divide the polenta among serving bowls and top with the beef cheeks and parsley.

Cook's note: To make this recipe in a slow cooker, brown the meat in a pan first and the cook on low for 8 hours instead of putting it in the oven for 4 hours.