Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sous Vide Beef Cheeks

Lately I had slow cooked beef cheeks at ODP and Brasserie Wolf. Both were good but I prefer Brasserie Wolf's sous vide version and was very eager to try out at home after talking to Cedric Kerhir, the restaurant director of Brasserie Wolf and an avid cook himself.

I searched the internet but could not find the perfect recipe. There are many beef or veal cheeks recipes out there but none using the sous vide method or looks close to what I have in the restaurants. There is one in Thomas Keller's Sous Vide cookbook "Under Pressure" but, like any typical Keller recipes, it is very tedious and I do no think I have the patience to follow through.

In the end, I decided to combine different recipes and what I have learnt about my sous vide supreme machine to date to prepare this dish for my guests last Sunday. The result was surprisingly amazing for a virgin attempt. The meat was moist and succulent just like those that I paid $30+ for a small portion in the restaurants!  I am sure I will be cooking this again very soon.

Ingredients (Serves 6)

1.5 kg beef cheeks (6 cheeks)
12 whole cloves
3 fresh bay leaf
3 sprig of rosemary
3 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
90g extra virgin olive oil
15g salt


Preheat the water bath to 82°C.

Remove any remaining cartilage and fat from the cheeks. (Do not remove the silverskin that runs through the center of each cheek). Wash them under cold running water.

Pat the cheeks dry with kitchen paper and place the dry cheeks and the rest of the ingredients in 3 vacuum pouches (2 cheeks into 1 and divide the rest of ingredients equally). Seal with hard vacuum.

Place the sealed bag in the preheated water bath and cook the cheeks for 8 hours.

Once cooked, retain the cheeks in the bag and cool in ice water. Do not open the bag until needed.

Like me, you can prepare the cheeks days before and keep in the fridge. Heat up and cook the sauce on the actual day itself.

The ingredients  - Beef cheeks, olive oil, garlic, cloves, bay and rosemary

Seal all herbs and seasoning with the cheeks in sous vide bags

To finish the dish:

6 baby carrots, peeled
15 shallots, peeled
150g unsalted butter
200g pancetta (Or bacon)
100g mushrooms
40ml balsamic vinegar
300ml dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste

Peel the carrots and shallots and place them in 2 separate sous vide bags.
To the shallots, add some olive oil, salt and pepper.
To the carrots, add 20g of butter and salt.
Seal the bags and cook in water bath at 80°C (an hour for the carrots and 30 minutes for the shallots)

If the cheeks are pre-prepared and kept in fridge for days, heat up the bags with cheeks for about 20-30 minutes.
Remove the cheeks from the bag. Pass the juice through a fine sieve.

Cut the mushrooms in ¼ ‘s and dice the pancetta.

Heat a medium size casserole dish with the butter, once the butter has melted and start to brown add the pancetta, mushrooms and the shallots (cooked in water bath with the liquid). Sauté until golden brown.

Add the balsamic vinegar and the white wine to deglaze and cook for a few minutes until the wine reduced and become sticky.

Add the cooked cheeks and liquid from the bag to the casserole dish.

Bring to a gentle simmer and cover the dish with a lid and simmer for 30 minutes to ensure that the cheeks are piping hot and the shallots are cooked. Reduce the liquid to a shiny and sticky consistency.
Adjust the seasoning if needed.

Spoon the shallots and mushrooms over the bottom of the plates, arrange the cheeks and the sous vide carrot and finish the dish with a scoop of the sauce. Garnish with any herbs you can find in the kitchen.

Serve immediately.

Bon Apetite.

Note: To give the cheeks a brown caramelized finish, I used a blow torch before plating. This part of the recipe is not necessary, but it does boost the presentation factor quite a bit.

Sous vide the shallots and baby carrots

Mushrooms and bacon for the sauce

To plates...

... I enjoyed the assembly process.

Final presentation... Sous vide beef cheeks 

Your enjoyment... My pleasure...

Started the lunch with the ever reliable Siblings Sauvignon Blanc Semillon from Leeuwin Estate, Margaret River.
This goes very well with the starter on a warm Sunday afternoon.

The main was paired with Shiraz-Pinotage Duet from Nederburg, South Africa. This is an interesting blend of spicy full-bodied shiraz with signature south Africa Pinotage. End result is a medium-bodied, easy-to-drink wine that went well with the Beef Cheeks. 

Bought this at a discount from The Oaks Cellars the day before - SUD Merlot and Company from Salomon Estate. Not very impressed - The nose has a very strong alcohol presence and the taste kind of flat.


  1. Oh wow. I have a kilogram of beef cheek in my SV Supreme sitting there the past 40 hours at 55 degrees C. Nothing in it with the meat, not even salt. Wish I saw your post earlier!

  2. How was your beef cheek? I had used this recipe few times and it had never failed. Most recently, I prepared this dish for 10 people last weekend and the result was as good. With proper arrangement, our SV Supreme can hold 10 good piece of meat.

    BTW, I'm really interested to learn more about your inspiring career switch from an executive to a chef. You have a cool blog too!

    1. Hi there. Thanks for liking my blog. I have a public page on Facebook www.facebook.com/extravirginchef. We can connect there too. Do you have a Facebook page?

      OK, that beef cheek. It was super yum. Sous Vide is 'da bomb! It sent my picture to Asian Food Channel Facebook page and they featured it. Your pics look great and you should share with more people too.

    2. By the way, could you email me your contact at extravirginchef@gmail.com. Would like to have a chat with you in private.

  3. Hi Chef !

    Congrats on the fabulous Beef Cheeks. I have made them about 4 times now, and the ALWAYS work magnificantly - so melt in your mouth !!
    I am making 2 lots today : one I will use for making ravioli and the other as per the recipe with veges or maybe my homemade tagiatelle. Your Pork Belly recipes looks great too. trying that one next.

    1. Thanks! Yes, this is also one of my family's favourite recipes.

  4. Browsing through the web and found your recipe. I will try it out later today, thanks. I tried the traditional way many time with Dutch oven and it was quite good too. Would you slightly brown/caramelised the meat first for adding flavor?

    1. Hi there! Have you tried the recipe? How was it?

      For sous vide cooking, I usually do not brown the meat before putting it into the water bath.

  5. I've done this worth cheek.... It's fantastic.... Trying note with Jacob's ladder... Great recipe and good blog.

  6. Made this for a dinner party-Restaurant quality! We just got an Anova and brought it up to a cottage. Had to scrape around for a vessel large enough to hold all the beef- made do by emptying out a toy box. Everything about your recipe was clear and very easy to follow. I look forward to making more of your recipes.

    1. Hi MommyMD! I am glad that you like the recipe! Thanks for the kind words!

  7. Hi! Im planning to prepare this dish over the weekend. Can i check why it is advised to simmer the cheeks for 30mins? Will cooking at this high temperature undo the effects of sous vide?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Doophus! Sorry for the late reply. I hope your dinner went well!

      Nope it will not. At 82C, the cheek would have been cooked through.

      This is different from, say, cooking a steak at 57C for medium rare doneness. For such meat, you want to just do a fast searing at high heat to char the surface.

  8. We are making this dish for 2 upcoming dinner parties. After finding beef cheeks at a little meat market in the Mission in San Francisco, we had to try this and we LOVE it. We have published a dining out blog long ago but need to revamp and do a food blog. So you may be seeing more from us here. Thank you for the astoundingly good recipe!


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