Braised Beef Cheek (Joue de Boeuf) with Anchovy Butter

11 Jun


Because of their heavy use, beef cheeks are super lean and tough. While this doesn’t sound like a fun cut of meat to cook, when braised the results are remarkable: with a little liquid, heat, and time, one cheek magically transforms into a dense, succulent, and immensely satisfying meal for two.

A traditional French-style braise in broth, red wine, mirepoix veggies, and a few sprigs of fresh herbs help to bring a full flavor to the meat. But after several hours in the oven I felt like I needed to add something to liven the dish up; so I worked out a new favorite invention of mine, anchovy butter.


Serves two

1 beef cheek (approx 1 lb)
1 tbsp ghee
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
1/2 yellow onion, chopped coarsely
1 carrot, chopped coarsely
1 stalk celery, chopped coarsely
2 cloves garlic, chopped coarsely
1 small sprig each thyme and rosemary
1 cup medium-bodied red wine (Merlot)
1 1/2 cups each chicken and beef broths

accompaniments:
1/2 batch of cauliflower purée
4 carrots, peeled
5 oz sliced white or crimini mushrooms

for the butter:
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped finely
4 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp anchovy paste
1 large pinch salt

Slice your veggies and set aside. Because they will be discarded later, I wouldn’t worry about peeling the carrot.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Trim any fat or connective tissue off the cheek and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Warm the ghee in a Dutch oven on medium heat for a couple minutes, then add the beef cheek.

Brown the cheek for about three minutes, until it forms a nice brown crust, then flip and brown for another three minutes.

Remove the cheek from the Dutch oven and set aside, then add the chopped veggies and herbs. Sauté until softened, about five minutes.

Add the red wine and stir together, gently scraping the bottom of the Dutch oven to deglaze.

Add the beef cheek, and the chicken and beef broths. The liquid should cover at least half of the meat; if it doesn’t, add more chicken and beef broths.

Cover the Dutch oven and put it in the oven, and roast at 325 degrees until it is very soft, about three or four hours. Flip the beef cheek every hour. As the beef cheek braises, you can prepare your cauliflower purée in advance and re-heat it when you’re ready to serve everything.

You know the beef cheek is done when easily pierced with a fork. Mine took three hours.

Next, gently remove the beef cheek and put it on a plate, cover it, and set aside. Leave the oven on! We’re going to use it again in a second. Using a fine wire mesh or colander, strain the remaining liquid and discard the mushy veggies.

Return the strained liquid and cheek to the Dutch oven, then add the peeled carrots and sliced mushrooms. Cover and return to the oven until the veggies are softened, about 10-15 minutes. You should only have a little bit of liquid left at this point, which is perfect – you only need a few spoonfuls of it to get the full flavor profile.

As the veggies cook, let’s prepare the final piece of this puzzle: anchovy butter! It sounds a little strange to go with a beef dish, but trust me – this butter is an umami taste explosion, and works perfectly with this dish. You can find anchovy paste in most grocery stores, and it’s much easier to work with than dried anchovies.

You can either leave your butter out for an hour before making the butter, or zap it for a few seconds until a little softened. Next, stir all of the ingredients together – minced garlic, olive oil, salt, anchovy paste, and chopped parsley. That’s it – pretty easy.

Okay, you’ve made it this far – now let’s plate your meal and enjoy the fruits of your labor. I served it together in one big bowl; the cheek fell apart so easily that we all just picked at it with some tongs and spooned everything else onto our own plates.

To plate, add the cauliflower, arrange the carrots, then spoon the sauce and mushrooms around the cauliflower. Lastly, add the cheek and spoon some butter on top. In other words, make it look like the picture at the top of this recipe.

Be sure to keep the rest of the butter handy, because you’re going to want to put it on everything.

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13 Responses to “Braised Beef Cheek (Joue de Boeuf) with Anchovy Butter”

  1. inte fan gör det det June 11, 2013 at 11:05 am #

    I love it!!!

  2. fionaward June 11, 2013 at 11:34 am #

    Got to try this :)

  3. acrusteaten June 11, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

    Looks amazing and love cauliflower purée instead of mashed potatoes. I bet the flavor complemented the beef beautifully! And anchovy butter with steak is a classic, I can totally taste the umami now!

  4. Laurel June 11, 2013 at 6:48 pm #

    DO WANT. I can hardly wait to try to find a beef cheek around here!

  5. Jenny @ paleofoodiekitchen June 12, 2013 at 12:22 am #

    I’ll have to try that anchovy butter :)

  6. Karen June 12, 2013 at 11:19 am #

    That looks amazing with the cauliflower puree. Wonderful combination. And I have a blue Le Creuset pot just like yours, so I have to try this!!

  7. Peggy June 15, 2013 at 5:02 am #

    Wow! Are you kidding me? This looks amazing and thanks to you, easy! I’m not sure if I am brave enough, but I might try it! Thanks for a cool post and incredible photos!

  8. Meagan June 16, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

    Umm what is that? And where did it come from? Holy cow that has to be one of the best looking dishes I’ve ever seen. You’re coming over for dinner!

  9. Catie Day Coggins July 8, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

    Any idea where to get a beef cheek in the Laurel/Columbia/Odenton/Annapolis area?

  10. Chef Frank Otte July 10, 2013 at 2:03 am #

    God I love anchovy butter!

  11. That other cook... July 10, 2013 at 8:01 pm #

    that looks so tasty, I really like your blog btw..beautiful!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Braised Beef Cheek (Joue de Boeuf) with Anchovy Butter | Paleo Digest - June 11, 2013

    […] Domestic Man / Posted on: June 11, 2013 The Domestic Man – Because of their heavy use, beef cheeks are super lean and tough. While this doesn’t […]

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