Braised Beef Cheeks

When braised, beef cheeks become meltingly tender, and have a rich, deep flavor. Try them with your favorite mashed potatoes recipe, polenta (like in the picture), or a delicious loaf of bread. Beef cheeks also work well in a slow cooker as long as there is enough liquid. 

Makes 4 main-course servings. 


  • 4 (12 oz) KOL Foods Beef Cheeks, trimmed of excess fat
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups red wine or beef stock
  • 1 (28- to 32-oz) can whole tomatoes including juice, chopped (3 cups)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Optional ingredients: Cremini mushrooms, Swiss chard, or eggplant.

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in an ovenproof 6-quart wide heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. While oil is heating, pat beef cheeks dry and season with salt and pepper. Brown beef, without crowding, on all sides, about 20 minutes total, and transfer with tongs to a bowl. Pour off fat from the pot, then add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and cook onion, carrot, celery, and mushrooms if using over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 325°F.

3. Stir cocoa powder into vegetable mixture, then add wine (or substitute beef stock) and scrape up any brown bits. Increase heat to high and boil until liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes.

4. Return cheeks (with any juices) to pot and add tomatoes with juice, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then braise, covered, in middle of oven until very tender, about 3 hours. At 2 hours 45 mins, add chard or eggplant if using so that they don't get too soft.

Directions for slow cooker:

Instead of putting the cheeks in the oven, after browning the beef cheeks put the cheeks and all ingredients into a slow cooker on low for 8 hours.