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White Wine Braised Beef Cheeks with Gnocchi

This idea came about in the summer of 2011 at Julienne. The story is good enough that beef cheeks get a headline blog but there are some other new products in my store. So go check them out!!

White Wine Braised Beef Cheeks

Gnocchi, Summer Corn, Roasted Onion, Cabbage & Cilantro

That was the dish. But how did it start?

Grass or Corn? That's how this dish came about. I had a customer who was badgering me about grass fed beef and how I should be using it exclusively. I get it. I do. Grass-fed beef does digest easier for me. No doubt. So I know the information related to grass-fed vs corn-fed is legit. But so is the flavor of corn supplemented beef. Fat is flavor. I also don't like the texture of 100% grass fed... it's not as tender. So, I digress...

I finished work that night and I was thinking about that conversation with the customer and I thought to myself "I'm gonna come up with a dish that pairs 100% grass fed beef and corn to poke fun at the grass fed beef hardcores... We'll call the dish corn fed beef"... We didn't call the dish corn fed beef... But we did use 100% Grass-fed Cheeks. (I don't anymore)

It was the middle of summer and corn was in prime season. When contemplating my cut choice for this dish cheeks popped into my mind first (I was thinking about cows chewing..). Beef cheeks are very tough when they are raw. They dull the knives quick because they have a lot of connective tissue and tense muscle striation. So, they really benefit from braising. Braising is great for tough cuts because the introduction of the braising liquid creates steam that really assists in softening those muscle tissues. It also converts the collagen in the connective tissue to a delicious texture of soft chewy beef.

So, I am using Beef Cheeks and Corn and I am going to braise but with what? Red wine and corn sounded wrong to me and I had never braised beef with white wine so it felt wrong too. But as I thought more about wine pairing and food, I realized that white wine and fatty beef cheeks might be the perfect combo. When you wine pair you pair with or in contrast to, what you are eating. A crispy white wine to cut a light (ish) summery beef braise sounded great to me. White wine and corn seemed like a solid pair too. It seemed like I had a dish here so I got to work.

The result was a seasonal favorite every summer for the years to come.

I recreated these beef cheeks for you to bring into your home. The following picture slides will show you the process of braising the cheeks. How you use them is up to you but I have presented a few ideas after the pictures conclude.

I start by cleaning the beef cheeks of extra fat and connective tissue that can be removed.

Season liberally

Then I brown them off in a pan with some olive oil.

Add mirapoix. Sautee briefly to incorporate and bloom the aromatics.

Add white wine. I had this Kunin open... I use whatever is open and I always save bottles that don't get finished (yes, it happens sometimes) for cooking

I reduce the wine then add some rosemary and a little chateau de le faucet (water)

After a few hours in the oven this is what you end up with. A delicious braised beef cheek that is ready for a multitude of uses.

This is how I have them packaged for sale. They are 8oz and include some braising jus. There are two different ways I recommend re-heating these.

  1. In the bag you see here. In a pot of simmering water until they are soft. You can do this right out of the freezer.

  2. Empty the contents of this bag into a sauté pan and put it in your oven at 375 until hot. You can even add your favorite roasting vegetables right to that pan and roast them together. Pop it out of the oven and finish it with a little knot of butter... oh my!!

Either method works fine. A combination of those two methods might be appropriate too. You can also remove from the liquid and pan fry until crispy.

What should I do with them?

Add them to pasta (pappardelle or fettuccine)

Beef Stroganoff

Beef Bourgogne starter

Eat with Mashed Potatoes (Shepherds Pie Style)

Make Tacos or Burritos

Sautee with vegetables or potatoes to make a beef cheek hash and eat for breakfast with eggs

Beef Cheeks & Gnocchi

What else can you think of?

Thanks for reading!!

Justin West

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