The beef holds its shape, at the same time it is super tender and succulent.
Cooked in the oven or in the slow cooker - this meal is ideal to set up in the morning, and 8 hours later it is ready to serve with creamy mashed potato. This dish is very forgiving, if you're not ready to eat as soon as it is done you can turn off the slow cooker and leave the meat for a couple of hours before serving.
Ideally marinate the meat overnight in the fridge the night before you plan to cook this.
This recipe serves two, double up on quantity to serve 4 (1 beef cheek per 2 servings).
400ml Red wine (We used mulled wine that wasn't used at Christmas!)
3 crushed garlic cloves
3 sprigs of thyme/1 large tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp olive oil
1 sliced onion
2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 pint of beef stock
3 bay leaves
Cut your beef cheek(s) in half and place into a shallow bowl to marinate in the wine, garlic and thyme. Leave the meat to marinate for 3 hours, or overnight in the fridge.
If using an oven and casserole dish - preheat the oven to 140C (fan), gas mark 3. If using a slow cooker - get it out!
Heat the oil in a frying pan and brown off the meat - transfer to casserole dish/slow cooker.
Fry off the chopped onion in the pan - add to casserole/slow cooker
Cook off the marinade mix left over from the meat, add the balsamic vinegar, cook off the alcohol (in the pan).
Add any chopped vegetables you wish (we used carrots and swede) to the casserole/slow cooker and season with salt & pepper.
Add the beef stock - use 1 pint whether you are doing 1 or 2 beef cheeks to the casserole/slow cooker.
Oven method - Cover the casserole dish and place in the oven for 4 hours. Turn the meat every hour. Slow cooker method - add the lid and turn to automatic for 8 hours.
Oven method - After 4 hours remove the lid from the casserole and cook for the remaining 2 hours uncovered. Baste the meat regularly.
Once the beef is cooked it is time to thicken up the gravy. We used cornflour to do this - take a small saucepan and add 2 tsp cornflour. Add a small amount of the liquid to the pan with the cornflour, making a paste. Gradually add more of the liquid from the cooked meat, whisking well to ensure no lumps. Heat gently on the hob until cooked through and thickened.
Dish up the beef, veg (if you added it to the stew) and serve with mash, top with hot gravy!