Beef cheeks are also known by their French name ‘joues de boeuf’, which has recently made a great comeback, partly due to popular American cooking shows and Michelin Star Restaurants.
Although the meal may sound like a dish served only in expensive restaurants, that’s not true at all.
You can easily prepare beef cheeks at home and even get an understanding of what beef cheeks are.
And what do beef cheeks taste like? Before you waste your money outdoors.
So, if you’re interested, continue reading to know what beef cheeks are, their taste profile, and what can be done with them.
Let’s get started.
What is Beef Cheek?
Beef cheeks are a type of specialty beef cut as only two portions of it are located on every animal.
Meatpackers often consider it as offal, which is a category of beef byproducts.
But, it technically can’t be classified as offal as it is not made of byproducts or internal organs.
Beef cheeks are usually found on the bovine facial region around the muscle an animal utilizes to chew.
This particular location of beef cheeks on an animal is extremely important and is directly related to the dense muscle one gets from a beef cheek.
Once cooked properly, this dense muscle turns into a tender cut.
Beef cheeks can be easily purchased from your local butcher shop and are often found covered in white, sinewy mix of gelatin, collagen, and fat.
Butchers tend to trim this look to make them more presentable.
One good thing is that this trimming can actually help cut down your preparation time at home.
What Do Beef Cheeks Taste Like?
The overall taste of beef cheeks depends on how the meat is cooked.
Slow-cooked ones offer a soft texture, similar to fat, stringy pulled pork or soft oxtail flesh.
Slow-cooked cheeks are also packed with rich and savory beefy flavors that give the mouth a very tender feeling.
This feeling is something that can’t be produced by other cuts of beef, making it extremely unique.
This soft nature of cooked beef cheeks is what creates the signature style of beef cheeks.
They’re so soft that once beef cheeks are done in the slow cooker, you can easily scoop them out with a spoon and enjoy it.
Yes, no knives are needed.
As beef cheeks are loaded with connective tissues, it carries healthy gelatin and collagen (considered quite healthy), which creates a spongy effect.
This helps absorb any brazing liquid, thus, making the flavor profile of cooked beef cheeks very gelatinous and moist.
Due to its slow-cooked nature, it contains rich and deep flavors, which can be compared with other types of slow-cooked cuts like pot roast or oxtails.
However, beef cheeks have a much more unique texture and flavor.
Regarding nutritional value, you cannot underestimate the power of beef.
It is a good source of protein and provides additional nutrients like zinc, iron, and vitamins A & D.
Even in terms of beef cuts, beef cheeks are known to contain lower calories and fats with higher protein than traditional steaks and roasts.
Hence, beef cheeks make a great substitute for conventional beef cuts.
How to Prepare and Cook Beef Cheeks?
Beef cheeks are known to be cooked slowly with a mix of spices and herbs.
They can also be served in different forms such as soup, hearty stew or a side dish.
One popular option for preparing beef cheeks is using a slow cooker to increase their softness and then serving them with hot rolls, vegetables, and cheese.
The slow cooker option is a pretty simple method and is used very commonly.
You can also braise or slow cook the beef cheeks in red wine.
This creates a very juicy texture and does not require much preparation time.
However, you do need tons of patience to receive the rewards in the end.
Apart from wine, you can also use other braising liquids such as bone broth, water, or vegetable stock.
For those with a more strict diet, the beef cheeks can be cooked slowly in water and natural juice.
This will also provide you with a nice dark and juicy broth.
If it’s an easy-to-make stew recipe you’re searching for, you can place some beef cheeks inside a pressure cooker with bay leaves, bone broth, peppercorns, veggies, and kosher salt.
If you’re looking for new ways to improve home-cooked meals, beef cheeks will make a great addition.
You can always start small and begin with basic recipes like the ones we have provided above.
The great thing about beef cheeks is that you can always explore different ways to eat them.
Thus, you can save money while enhancing your cooking skill.
We hope our post has provided all the information needed to understand beef cheeks.