Beef cheek and bean ragù

Beef cheek and bean ragù
  • Serves icon Serves 6
  • Time icon Hands-on time 30 min, plus overnight soaking. Oven time 3-4 hours.

Perfect with pasta or crusty bread, this rich beef cheek and cannellini bean ragù can be cooked in the oven or simmer in the slow cooker. Top with spoonfuls of zesty gremolata.

The cheek of it: our beef and ale pie with chocolate is also made with beef cheeks.

Nutrition: per serving

Calories
646kcals
Fat
19.4g (5.3g saturated)
Protein
58g
Carbohydrates
30g (9.2g sugars)
Fibre
13.4g
Salt
1.1g
Calories
646kcals
Fat
19.4g (5.3g saturated)
Protein
58g
Carbohydrates
30g (9.2g sugars)
Fibre
13.4g
Salt
1.1g

Ingredients

  • 250g dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight in cold water
  • 1.25kg beef cheeks, cut into large pieces (about 4cm), any visible fat and sinew trimmed
  • 5-6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp each chopped thyme and sage
  • 1 bottle (750ml) red wine
  • 750ml tomato passata
  • 2 fresh bay leaves, bashed
  • Grated parmesan and pasta or crusty bread to serve (optional)

For the gremolata

  • Finely grated zest 1 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 4 tbsp chopped flatleaf parsley

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 150ºC fan/gas 3. Drain the soaked beans and put in a large saucepan. Cover with at least 15cm water above the beans and bring to a rolling boil. Simmer for 30 minutes, then drain and reserve the beans and 1 litre of the cooking water.
  2. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large hob-safe casserole (about 6 litres) over a high heat and fry the beef in batches for 5 minutes or until evenly browned, adding a little extra oil if necessary. Remove the beef with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  3. Turn the heat to low and add 3 tbsp oil to the pan. Fry the onion, carrots, celery, garlic and herbs for 10 minutes until soft. Add the wine and boil for 3 minutes, then return the beef to the pan with the beans, tomato passata and bay leaves. Stir in enough of the reserved bean liquid to just cover the stew.
  4. Bring to the boil, cover the casserole with a tight lid (or a double layer of foil), then cook in the oven for 3-4 hours, checking the beef is fall-apart tender.
  5. For the gremolata, combine the lemon zest, garlic and most of the parsley. Once the beef is tender, serve each portion sprinkled with the gremolata, remaining parsley and, if you like, parmesan. The ragù would be good with pasta or crusty bread to soak up the juices.

delicious. tips

  1. In a slow cooker: Brown the meat in batches, then add to a slow cooker with the remaining ingredients and reduce the wine to 300ml – no need to add the bean cooking liquid. Cook on low for 6 hours

  2. Make up to the end of step 4, then chill for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight, then reheat until hot throughout. Make the gremolata to serve.

  3. Forgot to soak the beans? Most packs now say you can simmer dried beans for 1½ hours for the same result as pre-soaking. If you prefer, use chuck steak cut into large chunks. You’ll probably need to add a little extra cooking time to make sure the chuck is fall-apart tender, but don’t let it dry out.

Recipe By

Louise Pickford

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