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5 from 1 vote

Beef Cheek Tacos

These slow cooked beef cheek tacos are deeply savory and rich, spiced with earthy Mexican flavors and ready to make your next taco night different and delicious.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time3 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: beef cheek tacos, combi steam tacos, slow cooked beef cheek tacos
Servings: 6
Calories: 449kcal

Ingredients

Instructions

Steam Oven Method

  • Preheat oven to 265°F/130°C combi steam. If your oven has variable steam settings, select 30%. If not, don’t worry! Just set to combi steam at the correct temperature, and the oven will figure out the humidity.
  • Clean and trim the cheeks, and cut each one in half (if you buy yours from the butcher, you can ask them to do this for you).
  • Remove the stem from the ancho chili, roughly chop and put in a small dish covered with boiling water to rehydrate. Set aside for 5 minutes.
  • Put everything from the garlic to the salt into a food processor or blender (including the water from the chili) and blend into a paste. Add the beef stock and the juice of the limes and blend again to combine.
  • Put the beef into a baking dish or pot where it fits fairly snugly, pour over the sauce and give it a mix. Place in the preheated oven (no lid necessary) and cook until the meat is falling apart and tender, anywhere from around 3 hours and up to 5. Turn the cheeks over in the sauce a few times while they cook and if the liquid dries up, add a little water.
  • When the cheeks are cooked and you have a thick, dark sauce, take the dish out of the oven and use two forks to pull the meat apart. Return it back to the sauce as you shred to mix in with all of that rich, juicy goodness.
  • Serve meat piled into soft tortillas or crispy taco shells with sliced avocado, extra lime and coriander/cilantro, crunchy salad vegetables and your favourite spicy chili sauce.

Regular Oven Method

  • Preheat oven to 265F/130°C, conventional heat (no fan) setting.
  • Clean and trim the cheeks, and cut each one in half (if you buy yours from the butcher, you can ask them to do this for you).
  • Remove the stem from the ancho chili, roughly chop and put in a small dish covered with boiling water to rehydrate. Set aside for 5 minutes.
  • Put everything from the garlic to the salt into a food processor or blender (including the water from the chili) and blend into a paste. Add the beef stock and the juice of the limes and blend again to combine.
  • Put the beef into a lidded baking dish or pot where it fits fairly snugly, pour over the sauce and give it a mix. Put the lid on and cook until the meat is falling apart and tender, anywhere from around 4 hours up to 7. Turn the cheeks over in the sauce a few times while they cook and add a little water as the liquid dries up to maintain a thick gravy.
  • When the cheeks are cooked and you have a thick, dark sauce, remove from the oven and use two forks to pull the meat apart. Return it back to the sauce as you shred to mix in with all of that rich, juicy goodness.
  • Serve meat piled into soft tortillas or crispy taco shells with sliced avocado, extra lime and coriander/cilantro, crunchy salad vegetables and your favourite spicy chili sauce.

Notes

  1. You can eat this as soon as it’s done, but like many slow cooked dishes it tastes better the next day or even the one after that. The cooked and shredded meat will keep in the refrigerator for up to three or four days, or the freezer for a couple of months, so I often make it on a weekend when I’m around the house all day and save it for a busier weeknight dinner.
  2. The ingredient list calls for a whole ancho chili, which is the fruity, slightly smoky, mild dried version of the poblano pepper. It does add a special something so is worth seeking out. Ancho chilis are readily available online and from better grocery stores in many parts of the world. I add them to quite a few different dishes, which means a bag of several chilis can be used up in as many Mexican-inspired cooking sessions. If you can’t wait to make this dish and you don’t have ancho chili, use ½ to 1 tsp cayenne pepper as a substitute. You want the dish to have warmth rather than intense spicy heat.
  3. For serving the tacos we like to mix it up, sometimes using crunchy taco shells and other times soft flour tortillas to pile the meat into. Garnishes and condiments are up to you – we like tortillas or crunchy taco shells chili sauce, avocado, fresh coriander/cilantro, lime wedges, shredded fresh peppers and carrots - but feel free to make the dish your own. I haven’t done it because my kids aren’t enchilada fans, but I think the beef would make a great enchilada filling too.
  4. The nutritional information for this recipe is calculated on the beef cheeks only, and doesn't include accompaniments.

Nutrition

Calories: 449kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 130mg | Sodium: 641mg | Potassium: 902mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1849IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 5mg