Beef cheeks are underrated, and pair wonderfully with stout

JP McMahon: An easy, welcome alternative to that slightly overproduced Sunday roast

Why don’t butchers stock more beef cheeks? I’m always asked this question, particularly because when I teach beef cooking, I always include a beef cheek recipe. What is it about the cheeks that seem to turn people off? Is the texture a little to close to the bone, or rather too close to our own anatomy? We are well capable of making a beef stew, so why not a stew with beef cheeks?

Have you ever tried a beef cheek burger, with melted smoked Gubbeen cheese and caramelized onions? It’s definitely one to try.

Cheeks pair wonderfully with stout, due to their robust flavour and nature. Of course, beef and Guinness is a classic Irish combination, particularly for pies. Indeed, if you have leftover beef cheeks from the recipe below, you can chop them up and wrap them in puff pastry to make a wonderful impromptu pie. Perhaps a beef cheek Wellington is something we should consider instead of roast beef on a Sunday.

How to make braised beef cheeks with stout

To braise beef cheeks: salt and brown three beef cheeks in a large pot with some butter and oil. When the cheeks are nicely browned, remove the cheeks from the pot and allow to rest. Add two chopped carrots, one quartered onion, a couple of peeled garlic cloves and a few sprigs of fresh thyme to the pot.


When the vegetables are nicely browned, discard any excess fat and return the cheeks to the pot. Pour 500ml of good quality stout over the cheeks. After a minute or two, cover the cheeks with 1.5 litres of beef stock. Make sure the cheeks are completely submerged. You may need a little water depending on the size of the cheeks.

Continue to cook on the hob for three hours until the cheeks are tender. Alternatively, you can bake in the oven for the same time at 160 degrees. Strain the sauce from the cheeks and reduce by half for a nice gravy.

To serve: slice the beef cheeks and pour over the gravy. Serve with lashings of buttery mash.