Beef Cheeks à la Souvavou

A truly magnificent dish from Michael Bonacini - marinated garlic-stuffed beef cheeks in a wonderfully rich red wine sauce
Beef Cheeks à la Souvavou
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes plus overnight marinating
  • Effort: hard



  • 4 large beef cheeks, halved
  • 16 large lardons of bacon
  • 8 roasted clove garlic
  • plain flour, for dusting
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 500 ml veal stock
  • ready-made pastry dough, for sealing casserole
  • 2 tbsp butter, cold
  • 1 tbsp chives, chopped
  • salt, and freshly ground black pepper
  • apple and celeriac mashed potato, to serve
  • freshly grated horseradish, to garnish

For the marinade:

  • 750ml robust red wine, such as Pelee Island Merlot
  • 125 g carrots, diced
  • 125 g onions, diced
  • 125 g leeks, white part only, diced
  • 3 clove garlic, mashed
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 8 juniper berries
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns, crushed


1. Trim any exterior gristle from the cheeks. Do not trim the silver skin which runs through the middle (this will become tender when cooked).

2. Place the cheeks in a large dish and add the marinade ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.

3. Remove the cheeks from the marinade and set aside. Strain the vegetables and spices from the wine, and reserve. Pour the wine into a small saucepan and quickly bring to the boil. Remove from heat and strain through a fine strainer.

4. With a boning knife, puncture three holes in the side of each portion of cheek. Place two lardons and a roasted garlic clove in each hole. Tie each cheek with butchers twine, like a parcel. Season the cheeks liberally with salt and pepper, and then lightly dust them with flour.

5. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4.

6. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based casserole over medium-high heat. Brown the cheeks for 3 minutes per side. When golden brown, remove the cheeks and reduce the heat to medium.

7. Add the reserved marinated vegetables and spices. Brown lightly for 2-3 minutes. Add the strained red wine, scraping up the caramelised residue from the bottom of the casserole. Simmer until reduced by half.

8. Add the cheek parcels and the veal stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce to simmer and check the seasoning.

9. Place a dough seal on the inside of the casserole lid. Then place the lid on the casserole, checking to make sure you have a good seal. Place in the oven and braise for 3 hours.

10. Let the cheeks cool in the liquid. When cool, remove them. Strain the braising liquid from the vegetables, spices and herbs. Transfer the liquid to a wide saucepan. Add the cheeks to the pan and bring to a simmer until heated through. The cheeks should be very soft and tender.

11. Transfer the cheeks to a plate. With scissors, carefully remove the twine.

12. Add the butter to the simmering sauce and check the seasoning. Stir in the chives.

13. Place the mash on warmed serving plates with the cheeks on top. Drizzle the sauce around and a little on top. Finish the dish with freshly grated horseradish.

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