Movida’s braised beef cheeks in Pedro Ximenez sherry

3 August 2012
by Phuoc

Just under a month to go until Spring!

Thankfully, this Winter hasn’t been so bad as there weren’t that many rainy days, but regardless, the weather still calls for something comforting. This weather is perfect for braises and what makes them even better is that the cheaper cuts of meats are often used. Which is perfect for a food-loving uni student, there’s no need to resort to having a typical student diet, you know, the one that features two-minute noodles, pasta and cans of tuna…

Having first had this dish cooked by Karen at the Food Blogger’s dinner, the only thing I remembered about it was how incredibly tender the meat was and the smooth, creamy cauliflower purée. I didn’t realise it at the time but it was actually beef cheeks that I was having. So the hunt was on to find these cheeks.

Hopping from butcher to another in Cabramatta and having no luck after each time, I was almost convinced that they couldn’t understand my Vietnamese. But it seems that they just don’t have it because it isn’t a cut of meat that is commonly used around this neck of the woods. I ended my futile search in Cabra when a lady manning a butcher told me that cows don’t have cheeks. I simply laughed at her and asked her how the heck do they eat!?

Returning back home, I called butchers near my place hoping that they would say magic words “yes we have beef cheeks” but sadly no one did.

Some Googling lead me to find Establishment 218 in Alexandria; a butcher selling premium meats to the public at wholesale prices. Once again, I called up to make sure they had them (even though I had checked the pricelist online beforehand). “Yes we have plenty…” Brilliant!

I was cutting it fine leaving my place during peak hour and hoping to make it before they closed. I got there at 5pm on the dot and managed to let myself in. You see, this is not a regular butcher, like the procedure you go through to get on a ride in a theme park, there’s a systematic way to proceed through the store. You walk into a big cool room and choose your meat (which are all vacuum packed and sealed), make your way to the counter and pay, then you could get your meat custom cut by the butcher, free of charge. A very efficient way of doing things I’d say!

The cheeks I got were from Bindaree Gold grass-fed cows and $8.99/kg! At this price and quality, these were fantastic value! After this little ordeal, a part of me wanted to show that lady these beef cheeks. I couldn’t wait to start cooking with them.

A while ago I was given a Morphy Richards 6.5L Slow Cooker, thanks to Brad from Kitchenware Direct; which you’ll also get the opportunity to win. The beauty of slow cookers is that you can just dump your ingredients in the cooker and walk away to find that several hours later you have a marvellous and effortless meal.

Here are some of my thoughts on the cooker:

  • With a capacity of 6.5L, the cooker is big enough to serve at least 6-8 people
  • The removal bowl makes for easy cleaning
  • It is dead easy to use; just turn it on, set the cooking time, hit the “cook” button and that is all. Once it’s done, the machine will keep the food warm until you are ready to serve/eat (perfect for partners/family of food bloggers; no more waiting for food to get cold as they photograph the dish)
  • It’s a shame that the cooker doesn’t have a browning function, as this would definitely make the entire cooking process easier and involving less cleaning up

Overall, the slow cooker is great! If only the cooker had a function where you can set the exact time that the machine starts cooking eg midday, so that it’s ready by the time you get home from work. But perhaps it is wishful thinking.

Thanks to the lovely guys at Kitchenware Direct, they are giving one lucky reader a chance to win one of these slow cookers. All you have to do is tell me what uncommon cut of meat you use and for what OR what slow cooked dish you’d make if you won this cooker. This competition is open to Australian residents only and ends at 11:59PM (AEST) on the 16th August 2012. Good luck!

Congratulations to Kate on winning the slow cooker! Eating beef hearts as a substitute for steak as a uni student sure is something!


Recipe from Movida Rustica by Frank Camorra and Richard Cornish

Serves 8 (or 4 very hungry people)


4 beef cheeks (about 1.5kgs)

125 ml olive oil

3 carrots, roughly chopped

1 garlic bulb, halved

1 brown onion, sliced

500 ml Pedro Ximenez Sherry (you might be able to use a sweet sherry as a substitute)

500 ml red wine (I used a Cabernet Merlot)

500ml water

3 bay leaves

3 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

1 tsp salt

1 cauliflower, broken into florets and boiled until soft

185 ml cream

40 grams butter


  1. Trim the beef cheeks and remove any new sinew and silver skin. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat half the olive oil in a saucepan over high heat. Brown the beef cheeks for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden, then remove from the pan.
  3. Add the remaining olive oil, then add the carrot, garlic, onion and sauté over high heat for about 5 minutes, or until well browned. Stir in the sherry, wine, bay leaves, thyme and sea salt.
  4. Transfer the contents to the slow cooker and add the beef cheeks, cover and cook for 6.5 to 7 hours, or until the cheeks are beginning to fall apart.
  5. Put the cauliflower, cream and butter in a saucepan over medium heat until butter melts and cream heats through; season to taste with salt. Place the cauliflower mixture in a blender and process until smooth. Keep the purée warm.
  6. Take out some of the braising liquid and strain it through a fine sieve and into a small saucepan. Reduce the sauce over high heat until nicely reduced and glaze-like.
  7. Halve the beef cheeks (if serving for 8 people) and serve the cheeks with the cauliflower purée and reduced sauce.

Print this recipe


  1. Richard Elliot

    The beef cheeks look great.

    Not sure in Oz, but you can definitely get cookers with timers on them. My mum bought one about 15yrs ago!

  2. Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul

    Cows don’t have cheeks! LOL! I adore this winter dish…especially with the Pedro Ximenez!

  3. Tina@foodboozeshoes

    Wow – salivating right about now. I’d love to make a spiced, tomatoey stew of oxtails, I think. One of my favourite cuts but so laborious cos they need to be cooked forever…

  4. Erin@TheFoodMentalist

    Yum! I just love slow braised beef. You have inspired me to investigate a slow cooker 🙂

  5. Christine

    Yum! There’s nothing better than coming home to slow cooked beef after a long day at the office… I heart my slow cooker sooo much!

  6. Nic@diningwithastud

    OMG it looks delicious!!!! I love slow cookers too – such a great little appliance.

  7. Tina @ bitemeshowme

    Wow beef cheeks sounds like its a piece of the cow used quite often but am suprised it was so hard to source! I do love braised meats. Mum & dad have this old school slow cooker and I always love what they make with it. I really need to take notes one day and make something …

  8. Sara (Belly Rumbles)

    Did you eventually convince her that cows do in fact have cheeks? Too funny!! Establishment 218 is awesome, and they are really helpful. Vics Meats at Mascot also stock beef cheeks.

    Love the this dish, so beautifully wintery and the cheeks are just so tender looking.

  9. Lydia

    I looove fish cheeks! I would cook a shoulder of lamb and osso bucco. There is a 4yr old in my house who loves sucking the marrow out of bones so he would be very happy too.

  10. Eha

    Huh! So you had problems getting beef cheeks out Cabra way: out Picton way I am still in the process of convincing butchers/supermarket meat sections such ‘things’ exist and I should perhaps not be locked up for asking!! When I enquire which local cookery shows [and let’s face it, there are plenty!] they watch, it’s also ‘huh’?!! How many times did the recent Masterchef have them on the menu? Love your recipe & the idea of a slow, slow braise & shall get there somehow: am a persistent cuss!!!!

  11. Jacq

    This looks perfect for winter! I love beef cheeks but I’ve never tried cooking them before… I’m sure it’s super easy with the slow cooker though.

  12. Jackie

    I’d use the slow cooker for all those recipes that I read about that take like 8 hours to cook! I’d use it for shanks for fall-off-the-bone meat… very handy with having 2 demanding toddlers to look after at the same time!

  13. john@heneedsfood

    Cows don’t have cheeks? This from a woman working in a butchery? I can always rely on my butcher at Marrickville Metro to have things like this. Phuoc, I really like this recipe! It’s now the second beef cheek recipe on a blog I’ve seen within a few days. Must cook it again!

  14. Phuoc

    Richard: Really? So she can tell it what time to start cooking (eg midday) so by the time it is done, it’ll be ready for dinner?

    Peter: I know! There was another customer standing near me when she said this, she smirked, I wonder if she was thinking the same thing I was.. Silly lady!

    Tina: I’ve never cooked oxtails before, will be interested to give it a try.

    Erin: Oh they are so handy, you should definitely get one

    Christine: I couldn’t agree with you more

    Nic: Especially if they are teamed up with a pressure cooker function, it makes everything so much easier and quicker

    Tina: Yes, you should definitely learn as much as you can from them, because the goods that you produce will be so rewarding

    Sara: Thanks for the heads up on Vics Meats, I think that was another place that I had stumbled upon during my search online. The dish may take a long time to cook but it’s so worth it!

    Lydia: I don’t think I’ve had fish cheeks before, would love to know what it tastes like (I’ve heard so many people claim that it’s the best part of a fish). Oh wow, your son sure has good taste 🙂

    Eha: Good luck with the search!

    Jacq: It was my first time cooking with them and it couldn’t be any easier

    Jackie: Wow, 2 toddlers, things at home must be a little hectic.

    John: I think she only works there because her husband must be the butcher there. Then she goes on “reasoning” that when the butcher get the carcass they don’t see any cheeks.. So odd! It’s a sign John, go and make some beef cheeks!

  15. Alex

    Funnily enough, we had beef cheeks just yesterday for my dad’s 70th birthday lunch! They were delicious and I’d love to give them a go myself. Incidentally, my mum found them really easy to get hold of – she just put in an order at her local butcher.

  16. Phuoc

    Alex: Lucky you! They are a delicious cut of meat!

  17. Julie

    Yum I love beef cheeks :). I would make a chinese dish with pig trotters with ginger and vinegar yummy! Traditionally made when mothers give birth 🙂

  18. Kate

    Ooh these beef cheeks sound fab, as does the slow cooker!
    It’s been a while but as a poor uni student I used to love sauteing beef heart sliced thinly with some finely sliced onion (and/or chilli) and a splash of any favourite sauce at the end
    (Black & Gold Worcestershire Sauce was a fave).
    Delicious and satisfying when I couldn’t afford steak:)

  19. Jeff Nitsch

    One of my favourite dishes on a winter’s day would have to be Coq Au Vin and that’s what I would cook if I won this slow cooker. Though a very French dish, I use Aussie Shiraz in my version and so like to call it my “Chook-in-a-Ute”!

  20. Lex

    Hi Phuoc – that looks incredible, love beef cheeks! I’ve been thinking about getting a slow cooker for a while now. If I won this slow cooker the first thing I would cook would be Thomas Keller’s Slow Cooker Cassoulet – because I read it on a blog the other day and have been swooning over it ever since. I want that slow cooked pork shoulder in my belly, NOW! 🙂

  21. Phuoc

    Julie: Wow, pig trotters! I’d love to know why it would be given to mothers who have just given birth.

    Kate: Holy moly! Beef hearts?! Sounds like a nice way to prepare them though, I’d have no idea of how to cook them!

    Jeff Nitsch: lol Nice Aussie adaptation 🙂

    Lex: Mmmmm… Pork… Is there anything it can’t do?

  22. Dumpling Love

    Mmmm…beef cheeks! cue salivation. If I won this slow cooker, I would probably cook pig trotters in a fermented bean sauce. Perfect for winter, and my family who love them!

  23. Mademoiselle Slimalicious

    In France (my home country) beef tongue is quite a popular dish (as disgusting as it may sound to some people). It needs to be cooked slowly otherwise as you can imagine it gets very hard. I cook it with a red wine and tomato sauce and lots of Provence herbs. I haven’t made this dish since leaving in Australia though.

  24. Phuoc

    Dumpling Love: What an interesting combination, I’m extremely curious as to how this would taste.

    Mademoiselle Slimalicious: I love ox tongue so I’d assume the beef variety would be the same. But have never had it braised before. Sounds like a wonderful and hearty meal

  25. Kate

    Thankyou again Phuoc, the slow-cooker is sitting in pride of place in the kitchen!
    Haven’t looked for beef hearts lately, but am curious to find some and cook it again for old times sake. And perhaps try them in the slow cooker with this recipe I found: 🙂

  26. Phuoc

    Kate: The pleasure is mine 🙂

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