Slow-Braised Beef Cheeks with Parmesan Polenta


  • 150g instant polenta
  • 1/3 cup (25g) finely grated parmesan
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) olive oil
  • 2kg beef cheeks, trimmed, halved
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 fresh bay leaves
  • 750ml bottle Barolo (or other full-bodied red wine)
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 3 celery stalks, sliced
  • 2 tsp chopped rosemary leaves
  • 2 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
  • 1 tbs dried juniper berries, crushed
  • 8 cloves
  • 1 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tbs plain flour
  • Chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve


  1. Bring 700ml water to the boil in a saucepan and gradually stir in polenta. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes until thickened. Stir in cheese and 1 tsp salt. Pour into an oiled 28cm x 18cm x 3cm slice pan. Cover and chill for 3-4 hours until set.
  2. Heat 2 tbs oil in a large flameproof casserole over medium-high heat. Season beef, then in 2 batches, cook for 2-3 minutes each side until well browned. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Add garlic and bay leaves to pan and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant. Return beef to casserole, pour over wine and just enough water to cover, then bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 3 hours or until beef is tender. Transfer beef to a plate and cover. Strain cooking liquid into a bowl.
  4. Heat 1 tbs oil in casserole over medium heat. Cook onion, stirring, for 4 minutes or until golden. Add carrot, celery, rosemary, thyme, juniper berries and cloves. Cook for 6-8 minutes until coloured. Add vinegar and simmer for 1 minute. Add nutmeg and flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in reserved cooking liquid, then increase heat to medium-high and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until sauce is reduced and vegetables are tender. Season, add beef and simmer for 3-4 minutes until heated through.
  5. Turn out polenta and cut into 8 pieces. Heat remaining 1 tbs oil in a non-stick pan over high heat. Cook polenta, in batches, for 2-3 minutes each side until golden.
  6. Divide polenta among plates, spoon over beef, sprinkle with parsley and serve.


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