Beef cheeks are a great cut of beef that are super tender when cooked correctly. This method seals the outside and then slow cooks the middle, making the dish juicy and flavoursome.

Serves 6


  • 40 ml olive oil
  • 3 beef cheeks, about 1.5 kg.
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 sprigs lemon thyme,
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp rosemary leaves
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 600 ml red wine
  • 300 ml port
  • 500 ml chicken stock
  • ⅓ cup parsley leaves
  • ¼ cup sliced green olives
  • ¼ preserved lemon, rind only, finely sliced


Step 1

Heat oil in a large casserole dish over high heat.

Step 2

Season beef cheeks then add to pan and cook for 5–6 minutes until golden. Remove and set aside.

Step 3

Reduce heat to medium, add onion, carrot, celery and garlic and cook for 8-10 minutes until caramelised. Add lemon thyme, bay leaves, rosemary and fennel seeds and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Step 4

Pour in red wine and port, increase heat to high and bring to the boil. Cook for 8–10 minutes until reduced by half.

Step 5

Add chicken stock and beef cheeks, bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer on lowest possible setting for 3–4 hours until beef is almost falling apart.

Step 6

Meanwhile, bring stock to the boil over high heat in a large saucepan. Whisk in polenta in a steady stream and cook for 2 minutes until well combined. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for 40–50 minutes, stirring frequently, until completely soft. Stir through butter, season to taste and keep warm until ready to serve.

Step 7

Remove beef from braising liquid and cover to keep warm. Strain liquid through a fine sieve and return to pan(discard solids). Bring to the boil over medium high heat and cook for 10-15 minutes until reduced to a sauce consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Step 8

To serve, spoon polenta into deep bowls, slice each cheek in half and arrange on top of polenta. Combine parsley, olives and preserved lemon and sprinkle over beef. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.