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+ servings

Beef cheeks, cheesy polenta & kale pesto

This beef cheek dish is a show stopper for any party with family or friends!
Course Dinner
Cuisine American, Australian
Keyword Beef Cheeks
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 15 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 1384kcal



  • 1 kg beef cheeks 4 around 250g each
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 500 ml red wine
  • 400 ml vegetable stock - beef is ok too but it will be a richer dish
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 can diced tomatoes 400g
  • 6 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 red chilli finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 star anise


  • 1 liter whole milk & 250ml whole milk seperate
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1 garlic clove pureed
  • 40 g butter
  • 1/4 cup parmesan grated

Kale Pesto

  • 2 cups kale leaves torn
  • 1 garlic clove crushed
  • 2 tbsp pinenuts light;y toasted
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese grated
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt
  • pepper


  • 8 dutch carrots peeled and trimmed
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper



  • Season beef cheeks and sear in dutch oven with 1 tbsp oil on medium to high heat - approx 4 mins or until golden brown. Remove and leave on clean plate
  • In same pan add 1 tbsp oil, red wine, stock, chili, garlic, bay, spices.tomato paste and tinned tomatoes. Bring to the boil.
  • Add beef cheeks to liquid and top with water (if necessary) until cheeks are completely submerged.
  • Cover pot with lid or foil and place in oven at 180c for 3 hours.
  • Remove from oven and remove cheeks from the pot. Skim any fat and reduce the liquid by half
  • Adjust seasoning if necessary and add beef cheeks back to pot and leave on a low heat until ready to serve.
  • Start to make the carrots & polenta now. 


  • Add 1 liter of milk, garlic & bay leaves to saucepan and bring to a simmer on a medium heat.
  • Remove bay leaves and slowly add polenta to milk, stirring continuously. Cook on a low heat for 3 mins.
  • Add butter, mascarpone, seasoning, parmesan and extra milk. Cook for another 2 minutes until polenta is a nice semi firm consistency.


  • Toss carrots in olive oil and seasoning.
  • Cook in oven @ 180c for 8-10 mins. Alternatively you can fry them on medium heat for 8-10 mins. 

Kale Pesto - can be made in advance

  • Toast pinenuts in a dry frying pan on low heat. Remove as soon as they start to go golden brown.
  • Add pinenuts, kale, garlic, parmesan, seasoning and lemon juice to food processor.
  • With food processor on medium gradually add oil until blended into a paste.


  • Place a spoon of the polenta on the center of the plate.
  • Using a slotted spoon and tongs gently place beef cheek on top of polenta and drizzle a little braising liquid over the top
  • Place carrots next to beef cheeks and spoon a little pesto over the top and alongside the carrots as shown in photo.



Essential Tools

  • small frying pan x 2
  • measuring utensils
  • chopping board
  • knives
  • small food processor
  • dutch oven / large sauce pan
  • medium sauce pan - polenta


  • when searing meat in a pan don't crowd it. Cook them in batches if necessary
  • be careful when toasting pinenuts as they will burn easily
  • pesto will last for 3-4 days in the fridge and goes great with pasta, on a salad or in a sandwich


Calories: 1384kcal | Carbohydrates: 77g | Protein: 60g | Fat: 82g | Saturated Fat: 33g | Cholesterol: 197mg | Sodium: 1036mg | Potassium: 2158mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 25665IU | Vitamin C: 78.2mg | Calcium: 685mg | Iron: 8.2mg