Beef cheeks are a deliciously tender, quick to braise cut you can find at most butchers shops. This is a great make-ahead dish, perfect for entertaining.
Photography: Anders Schonneman
3 tbsp olive oil
1.2kg good quality Beef cheeks, cut into 12 pieces
1/4 cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
3 shallots, skins removed and halved
4-5 sprigs thyme
500 ml good quality red wine
600 ml pomegranate juice
1 tsp black peppercorns
Kosher salt and Ground black pepper, to taste
4-5 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
500ml full fat milk
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
1 lemon, zest and half the juice
2 Tbsp flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
½ cup pomegranate seeds
1 Tbsp olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 300F. In a large heavy bottomed pot over medium heat, add the olive oil. Lightly toss the beef in seasoned flour, tapping off excess. Over a medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to a heavy oven-proof pot with a tight fitting lid. Sear the beef for 2-3 minutes per side. This may need to be done in batches. Set the beef aside while you prepare the rest.
2. Reduce the heat to low-medium, add remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan along with the shallots and saute for 5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and thyme, cook for 2 minutes.
3. Deglaze the pan with wine, scraping all the bits on the bottom. Add the pomegranate juice and peppercorns. Return the beef to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover the stew directly with a round of greased parchment paper and the lid. Place in the oven for 2 ½ - 3 hours until the meat is tender and pulling apart. Check halfway if more liquid is required, adding water if needed.
4. Meanwhile, make the parsnip puree. Combine the parsnips, garlic and milk in a medium saucepan. Season with salt and pepper then bring to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes until the parsnips are soft. Allow to cool slightly before transferring to a blender. Blitz until smooth. Return to the pan and cover puree directly with cling film to avoid a skin forming. Set aside.
5. For the gremolata, combine the garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, pomegranates and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Remove the beef from the pot and place back to a medium-high heat until the liquid has reduced by a third and coats the back of a spoon. Season to taste and serve alongside the parsnip puree and gremolata on top. This can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated. Simply reheat to serve.