With rainy days, I’m typically at home cozying up to my blanket on my sofa watching Chef’s Table on Netflix. And just for added ambiance, it’s always nice to be braising meat in the oven for that enticing aroma.
For that, beef cheeks are one of my favorite go-to cuts when I can find them at my local butcher (they’re not as easy to find since there really are only two cheeks per cow). But when I get my hands on them, I love to slow cook them so they’re tender and soft, with the marbling tendons turning into unctuous flavor almost like bone marrow.
This time around I decided to turn my beef cheek stew into a pot pie. Don’t hate me, but I always go the convenient way, which is ladling my cooked filling into a large-sized ramekin or ceramic soup bowl, and then covering it with a store-bought frozen puff pastry sheet. And oh, to perk up the stew I add a bit of smokey bourbon.
The end result is pure comfort food with the intensely flavored beef cheeks stew with the flakey golden crust of the puff pastry top. Throw in a side of mixed greens salad for a balanced meal.
Now this is a dish that’ll keep you home. Enjoy!
Beef Cheeks Pot Pie
Makes six servings
2 beef cheeks (about 1.5 lbs), cut into 1-inch cubes
1 small onion, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
3-4 carrots, sliced across the diameter
1 bay leaf
2 fresh thyme twigs
1/2 cup flour
2 cups beef broth
2 cups water
1/2 cup bourbon
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. mini potatoes cut into desired eating bites
1 fennel bulb, cut into slices
1 cup frozen peas
1 package of frozen puff pastry sheets
1 egg for egg wash
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In heavy bottom pot or dutch oven, warm olive oil over medium high heat. Add onions, garlic, celery and one carrot stick that has been finely diced and cook with a pinch of salt for about four to five minutes until all the ingredients are softened.
Season your beef cheeks on both sides with salt and pepper. Add more oil to the pot if needed, push vegetables to the side and then add beef cheeks to the pot to brown, about two minutes each side. Sprinkle in flour and cook for a minute, then add bourbon and cook for another minute. Add broth and water. (Add additional water so the the cheeks are almost covered.) Add bay leaf and thyme. Put in oven to slowly cook. Check periodically and add more beef broth as needed.
Defrost puff pastry sheets per package instructions (typically 45 minutes before you need to use them).
At 2 hours, add potatoes, carrots and fennel. After another 30 minutes, add peas. Cook for another 20 minutes then remove from oven.
Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees.
Pour beef cheeks stew into ramekins or ceramic bowls (remove bay leaf and thyme when you spot them). Cut puff pastry sheet to fit the size of the rim of the ramekin and pierce a few holes in the center with a fork. Place pastry sheet over ramekin, pressing the dough over the rim to seal it.
Create egg wash by mixing one egg with a dash of water. Then apply the egg wash on the puff pastry. Place in oven and cook until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Serve with green salad with a light vinaigrette.
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