Cheeky, Smoked Beef Cheeks that is….

So yesterday I decided to take a walk up to my favorite butcher to find me some beef short ribs to grill for dinner and much to my disappointment, there were none to be purchased.  I was looking for something different, something unique and something Heather and I just haven’t tried before. Enter my pal the butcher. With a smile he suggested beef cheeks and then explained to me that the texture and make up of the muscle is very similar to what you’d find on short ribs.  I pulled out my trusty BGE cookbook (yes, I brought it with me to the butcher…) and my pal the butcher agreed that the smoked beef short ribs recipe (on page 304) could be used for this very cut of beef…

Challenge Accepted!

I came home with two pieces of cheek (just under 600 g) and began the preparation.  When you’re going to smoke meat, its gonna take a while so I had to time things for Heather’s return home from work.  Start time was around 3:00 pm and here’s how it all went.

Step 1: The Rub (with a few suggestions for next time…)

  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (add a drop of liquid smoke to your regular paprika if you don’t have the smoked stuff…)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbs of Kosher salt (now this is where I’d change things – use 1 or 2 tsp of Kosher salt instead – the smoking process and the chicken stock add a lot of salty flavour….just something to keep in mind!)
Now prep your grill by adding a fistful of pre-soaked hickory chips to an already lit firebox, place your grill on top and close the lid and watch the smoke start to billow. Stabilize your temperature at 180F. At this stage, its a good time to mix all of the rub ingredients in a small bowl and get your beef cheeks to room temperature.
The Rub
The Rub all Mixed Up...
Hickory Smoke
Once their ready, generously coat each side of the beef cheeks with your rub – don’t over do it but make sure you’ve got an even coating so that every bite will get the intended flavour! Place the beef cheeks on the grid and close the lid on the Egg. Let the cheeks smoke low and slow for the next 2 hours. (BTW, they look horrible after a smoking but fear not, its just part of the process!)
Beef Cheeks - 590g
Rub Applied
Let the smoking begin
After the two hour mark your beef cheeks will look like they’ve seen better days.  In fact, what you’ve done is seal in all that smoky goodness within the meat. They did end up moist and succulent though at the end of the smoking bit, they looked more like beef jerky!
Low & Slow
Smoked at last...
Ready for Phase 2
Phase 2: The Steeping
  • 1 bottle of Lager and 1 for the cook
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup rice wine (or white balsamic vinegar)
  • 2 tbs cubed unsalted butter
At this juncture, you’re ready for the bottle of Lager (Cascade in this case from the Isle of Tasmania) and 2 cups of chicken broth. Mix the beer and stock in a large bowl and pour the mixture over the beef cheeks.  Seal the dish tightly with aluminium foil and pop it in your pre-heated oven set at 375F or 190C – The ribs then enter their steeping phase for the next 2 1/2 hours.  Remember, low and slow for best results!
Ready for Phase 2
Cheeks in Beer/Stock Mix
Into the oven for 2.5 hours
Phase 3: Final prep and plating…
Place your rice wine in a saucepan over medium heat for about 15 minutes until it reduces to about half, set it aside for the final step.  Now once your 2.5 hours are up it’s time to prep your final sauce and present your masterpiece.  Warm up the reduced rice wine and using a whisk, add the butter a bit at a time, stirring constantly until the butter emulsifies. Carefully remove the cheeks from the oven, unwrap the foil and take a deep whiff of that incredible smell! Slice your beef cheeks against the grain and plate up with some rosemary/garlic roasted potatoes coupled with pistachio/pine nut buttered asparagus.
Thanks to my pal Pete the butcher…  Great suggestion and a fantastic result!  YUM!
 

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