Beef Cheek Chili

Serves 3-4.

Why this recipe: Beef cheeks are your ninth runner up in a ten-contestant beauty pageant. But they should be crowned! Their tenderness, their beefiness, and their unctuousness mouth filling effect is awesome. Truly delicious. And they are so inexpensive, there is little risk in trying them.

Time requirement: About 20 minutes preparation time and 3 hours in the oven.

What you will need:

Start with 2¼ to 2 ½ pound package of beef checks. After you trim them of fat, there will be about 1½ pounds of collagen-rich meat. Cut the meat into 4-5 large pieces. Dry them, with paper towels.

Spray oil.

6 garlic cloves (peeled and split lengthwise in half).

2 poblano peppers, seeded and cut into julienne strips (4-5 ounces).

3 serrano chili peppers, chopped. (Or use what chili is available such as cayenne or Thai bird’s eye).

½ cup red wine.

1 large can of crushed tomatoes, net weight 28 ounces.

½ teaspoon kosher salt.

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.

2 teaspoons ground roasted cumin.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Some boiled rice to serve the chili over.

Preparation:

Choose a pan in which you can brown the meat and cook it (covered) in the oven.

Give the pan a light spray of oil and turn the heat under the pan to medium high. When the oil is hot (beading and beginning to brown), add the beef checks. Brown the beef cheeks on all sides. This will take 5-8 minutes. When browned remove the beef cheeks to a plate.

In the same pan, add the garlic, strips of poblano peppers, and chopped serrano peppers. Heat these in the pan, stirring all the time, for a minute – just long enough to give the garlic a little color and for the garlic to become fragrant.

Add the ½ cup red wine and deglaze the pan. Lower the heat. Add the tomatoes, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, and 2 teaspoons ground roasted cumin to the pan and stir the contents of the pan well to combine all the ingredients. When the contents of the pan are at a simmer, return the meat to the pan. Stir the meat into the simmering tomato sauce. Cover the pan and place it in the oven for 3 hours. About every 45 minutes, turned the meat in the pan.

After 3 hours remove the pan from the oven. Serve the chili over boiled rice.

The results should be a mild heat, despite the use of 3 serrano chilis. The long cooking mellows the chili’s heat as well as the garlic. The meat should be moist, rich, “melting in your mouth” tender. It should be best chili you have every eaten.

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