A few weeks back I was doing my weekly Kensington Market run when I decided to stop in my favourite butcher, Sanagan’s Meat Locker. Sanagan’s is a tiny butcher shop that stocks all types of responsibly raised, local meats. They do a good job of identifying which farm the meat is from and if you follow them on Twitter, Facebook or read their blog you’ll have a chance to learn a bit more about their meat and where it comes from. Despite the fact that their meats are all local and healthy, I generally don’t find their prices to be exorbitant. Yes, prices are higher than the supermarket but I find the prices to be less than some of the other fancy butcher-type places in Toronto. AND the meat is fabulous.

I don’t remember what I actually went in to buy but I remember looking over and seeing a sign for beef cheeks. I was intrigued. They looked pretty unappealing. They kind of looked like big, thick beef pancakes with a white fat/membrane. Nonetheless, I was intrigued so I asked one of the butchers what would one do with beef cheeks and she (yes, she. Big ups to female butchers) said to braise them like I would short ribs. Since short ribs are one of my fave meals I was totally sold. Oh, and beef cheeks are super cheap at $3.99/lb whereas short ribs are in the $6+ range. I actually hesitated blogging about the goodness because I don’t want beef cheeks to become super popular and get more expensive. But I also couldn’t NOT blog about them because they are DELICIOUS.

So when you get beef cheeks they look like the photo above. In retrospect I should’ve asked the butcher to trim them down for me because it was quite a bit of work. Think of it like skinning fish. But at least when you skin fish the skin comes away easily, you just have to be delicate. With the beef cheeks the membrane is not at all delicate so you really have to work away at it and you don’t want to lose too much of the meaty goodness.

I was initially going to modify one of my fave short rib recipes and just use beef cheeks but I figured I’d see what the interwebs had to offer. One of my fave magazines, Saveur, had this recipe on their website that I figured I’d adapt it to use what I had on hand.  Overall it sounded great but I didn’t feel like using a calf’s foot or serve it with pasta.  I had this vision of serving Yorkshire pudding so that was going to be my side.

I cooked my beef cheeks for a bit over 3 hrs until they were super tender.  The only thing is that they totally fall apart… kind of looking like pulled beef.  That doesn’t matter though because it all gets chewed up in your mouth anyway! So… my thoughts on beef cheeks…


Seriously.  They are like short ribs but better.  More tender, more flavourful, cheaper and just delicious.  It was one of those meals where I couldn’t stop talking about how good the food was.  Since making these beef cheeks I’ve used them in other recipes in place of other types of beef and they honestly make every recipe better (more posts to come).  After making this recipe I called the butcher to order another 5lbs of cheeks.  Yes, 5 lbs.  I froze them in packs of 2 cheeks and they are ready to go when I need them.


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7 Responses to Braised Beef Cheeks

  1. Sarah Nix says:

    Beef cheeks are my FAVORITE meat- I had saw them on a menu once and had to order them just because of the name, and I’ve been hooked ever since! I’ve never made them myself – I’ll have to try your recipe! Thanks.

  2. […] I mentioned in a recent post, I love me some beef cheeks. I like them so much that after first making them I called the butcher […]

  3. […] this TINY butcher that I was about to wax poetically about but it turns out that I fully did that here.  That’s how much I love Sanagan’s, I almost wrote the same post twice!  My issue […]

  4. Justin says:

    Just had beef cheeks for the first time last night. I was going to get short ribs as they are one of my favorites, but the waitress said that they had a special called beef cheeks. She said if I liked short ribs I would love the beef cheeks, and she was right. Can’t wait to try making them.

  5. Dani says:

    I ran across that Saveur recipe while looking for a method to cook beef cheeks, and then found your blog. I preferred your list of ingredients!

    I don’t have a lot of experience braising, can you tell me what the need for the parchment paper is?

    Thanks for the post!

    • jim mcfarlen says:

      Parchment paper is used to help seal the lid, and retain the maximum amount of moisture (steam vapor) in the container.

  6. Ann says:

    I don’t trim my beef cheeks at all and they always come out perfect and tender. This is a nice recipe. Beef cheeks are so versatile and slow cooking is the best way to “baby” them. Dark beer is a good sub for the wine. I’ve been know to make a mix of cranberry juice, balsamic, and a couple shots of gin as a wine substitute. Lol. Works very well! ;D

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