Beef Cheek Ragu

Slow cooked beef cheek ragu is tossed with tagliatelle, served on lemon thyme ricotta, finished with thinly sliced pickled peppers and parmesan. Beef cheeks are an oft overlooked cut of the cow. They’re budget friendly, lean and tender. Beef cheeks are best cooked low and slow; this recipe uses your slow cooker- perfect for a weeknight dinner. This recipe feature beef cheeks as part of a slow cooked pasta sauce: simple, easy, and delicious.

yields 4 plates

Beef Cheek Ragu

  • 1 celery rib finely chopped

  • 1 yellow or white onion finely chopped

  • 1 carrot peeled and finely chopped

  • 1 (14.5 oz) can of diced tomatoes

  • 1 lb beef cheeks, cleaned- membrane removed (ask your butcher to do this for you)

  • 1 T canola oil

  • 1 C chicken stock

  • 1 T tomato paste

  • 1/2 t honey

  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme finely chopped

Add celery, onion, and carrot to your slow cooker. Add oil to a cast iron pan at medium-high heat. Once pan is hot, season beef cheeks with salt and pepper and sear on all sides until nicely browned. Transfer seared cheeks to slow cooker. Add chicken stock and tomato paste; stir until paste is incorporated. Add tomatoes, honey, and thyme. Cover slow cooker, and set to high for 5 hours. After 5 hours, use two forks to shred and pull the cheeks into the sauce. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until ready to serve.

Lemon Thyme Ricotta

  • 1/2 C ricotta

  • 2 lemon’s zest

  • 2 T fresh thyme

  • 1 t olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until ready to serve.

Beef Cheek Ragu Plating

  • Beef Cheef Ragu

  • 8 oz dried tagliatelle (2 oz per person)

  • olive oil

  • lemon thyme ricotta

  • approx. 6 pickled baby bell peppers or any pickled sweet peppers thinly sliced

  • parmesan cheese

  • flat leaf parsley finely chopped

Prepare tagliatelle according to package. Strain pasta (reserve about 1/4 C of pasta water), and add to a large bowl; drizzle with olive oil and toss. Add ragu and pasta water to tagliatelle and carefully toss to incorporate. Divide lemon thyme ricotta; spoon ricotta into a large circle on to the middle of each plate. Divide the tossed pasta for each plate; using tongs place directly on top of the ricotta. Finish each plate with some shaved parmesan, finely chopped parsley, pickled sweet peppers, and flake salt and cracked black pepper.


beer: Witbier.  The high carbonation of a witbier contrasts the richness of the beef cheek ragu and the creaminess of the lemon thyme ricotta.  An effervescent wit is a great accompaniment to this meal.  Some beers to look for: Allagash White, Cisco Grey Lady, Dogfish Head Namaste. 

cocktail: Orange Fennel Sangria