Greek Beef Cheek Recipe: Tender Mediterranean Delight

Have you ever tasted a dish so tender and flavorful that it practically melts in your mouth, leaving you yearning for more with each bite? The Greek Beef Cheek Recipe offers just that—a culinary masterpiece in Traditional Greek Cooking. This Beef Cheek Ragu, also known as Kokkinisto, combines the deep flavors of braised beef cheeks with the richness of tomatoes and red wine, creating a Mediterranean feast fit for any occasion.

Greek Beef Cheek Recipe Tender Mediterranean Delight 2
Greek Beef Cheek Recipe Tender Mediterranean Delight 

Key Takeaways

  • The Greek Beef Cheek Recipe serves 6-10 people, making it perfect for a gathering.
  • Prep time is roughly 30 minutes, with a cook time of 3 1/2 hours in the oven.
  • The beef cheeks are cooked gently to enhance their flavor and tenderness.
  • This dish can be served with a variety of sides like gnocchi, mashed potatoes, or freshly cooked pasta.
  • Herbs such as thyme, sage, bay, rosemary, basil, or parsley can be used to add more depth to the dish.

Introduction to Greek Beef Cheek Recipe

Embarking on a culinary voyage to the heart of Greek cuisine, the Greek Beef Cheek Recipe, also known as Kokkinisto, captures nostalgic warmth and familial comfort. This Beef Cheek Stew is grounded in tradition, featuring the slow braising of beef cheeks in a savory blend of tomatoes, red wine, and aromatic spices like cinnamon and cloves.

With an original recipe calling for 6 pounds of beef cheek meat, we dive into the cooking adventure with 1 1/2 pounds, supplemented by 4 large beef short ribs. The beef cheeks’ gelatinous texture and rich flavor make them a favored ingredient in Mediterranean Beef Dishes. After trimming fat, gristle, and silver skin, about 50% of the initial weight is perfect for slow cooking, turning this tough cut into melt-in-your-mouth delicacies over more than 7 hours of cooking time.

The preparation includes 8 cloves of garlic and 1 cup of beef broth, with optional seasonings like Mexican chili powder and cayenne to add a twist. Cooked in a 5 1/2 quart crockpot, the dish can also be made more swiftly using an Instant Pot in approximately 90 minutes.

This versatile Greek Slow Cooked Beef dish fits various diets, including gluten-free, Paleo, keto/low carb, and regular diets. Traditional ingredients like red wine, garlic, onion, thyme, crushed tomatoes, and orange zest render a complex flavor profile. Recommended to be paired with pappardelle, mashed potatoes, or cauliflower puree, the Beef Cheek Ragu also pairs well with mushrooms and shredded red cabbage for added nutrition and flavor.

Beef cheeks’ high gelatin content maximizes nutritional benefits, making them an excellent choice for robust, heartwarming meals. This Kokkinisto is a testament to Greek culinary craftsmanship, a dish where each bite commemorates the rich Mediterranean heritage. Prepare it a day in advance to allow the flavors to meld and intensify, making every mouthful a delightful experience.

Ingredients and Preparation Tips

Creating a delightful Greek Beef Cheek Stew involves mindful selection and preparation of ingredients that bring out rich and comforting flavors. Here, I’ll walk you through the key ingredients and preparation steps to make your cooking experience enjoyable and successful.

Key Ingredients

For an authentic Greek Beef Stew, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Beef Cheeks: This underrated cut boasts incredible flavor and tenderness when cooked low and slow, making it ideal for dishes like Beef Cheek Goulash and Beef Cheek Ragu.
  • Tomatoes: Fresh or canned tomatoes form the base of the sauce, adding a rich, savory depth.
  • Red Wine: Merlot, Shiraz, or Cabernet Sauvignon are recommended for adding richness and complexity to the dish.
  • Beef or Chicken Stock: This enhances the overall savory notes of the stew, with 2 cups typically required.
  • Spices: Essential spices such as bay leaves, a cinnamon stick, and cloves infuse warm flavors into the stew.

Preparation Steps

Follow these steps to prepare a mouth-watering Greek Beef Cheek Stew:

  1. Prep the Beef Cheeks: Start by searing 1.2 kilograms of beef cheeks to create a caramelized crust, locking in the juices. This step is crucial for depth of flavor.
  2. Sauté Aromatics: In the same pot, sauté 1 chopped onion, 5 cloves of garlic, 2 finely diced carrots, and 1 finely diced celery stalk until they’re soft and fragrant.
  3. Add Liquids and Spices: Incorporate 2 cups of beef or chicken stock and 2 cups of canned tomatoes into the pot. Pour in 1 cup of red wine and season with bay leaves, a cinnamon stick, and cloves for robust flavor.
  4. Simmer: For tender, succulent beef cheeks, simmer the mixture for approximately 3 ½ hours. This slow cooking process breaks down the connective tissue, resulting in a melt-in-your-mouth texture.
  5. Finish and Rest: Once the beef cheeks are tender, let them rest to reabsorb their juices, ensuring a moist and flavorful final dish.
  6. Serve: For serving suggestions, you can pair the stew with pappardelle pasta, mashed potatoes, or polenta, topped with fresh basil, parmesan cheese, and ricotta cheese for added richness.

Embrace the warmth and richness of Greek Comfort Food by following this recipe, and enjoy a sumptuous meal with family and friends. Remember, any leftover ragu can be frozen for up to 3 months, making it a convenient option for future meals.

Serving Suggestions for Greek Beef Cheek Recipe

When it comes to serving the Greek Beef Cheek Recipe, the possibilities are delightfully varied. Traditional Greek ways often involve pairing this Mediterranean beef dish with a side of orzo or penne pasta, allowing the lush sauce to envelop the pasta perfectly. This harmony of flavors can transform a simple meal into a heartwarming Mediterranean experience.

For those seeking something different, consider serving this Greek beef stew over creamy mashed potatoes or buttery mashed cauliflower. Both options provide a contrasting texture that beautifully complements the tender, slow-cooked beef cheeks. In Greece, it’s also common to enjoy this dish with fluffy rice, enhancing the pleasure of savoring each bite.

To create a balanced meal, adding some green vegetables like wilted spinach, steamed green beans, or tender broccoli can offer a refreshing contrast to the stew’s rich flavors. Whether you adhere to traditional accompaniments or explore alternative sides, the Greek Beef Cheek Recipe is incredibly versatile, allowing you to tailor it to various tastes and dietary preferences.

Don’t forget, the delicious sauce is perfect for soaking up with crispy bread or golden fries, adding an extra layer of indulgence. And if you have leftovers, this Mediterranean beef dish can be creatively repurposed into new meals like Beef Cheeks Ragu Pasta or a comforting Beef, Mushroom, and Vegetable Pie. Each option promises a unique and satisfying dining experience that showcases the rich, tender qualities of beef cheeks.


What is the best cut of beef to use for the Greek Beef Cheek Recipe?

Beef cheeks are the best cut for this recipe due to their melt-in-your-mouth tenderness after prolonged cooking. However, other inexpensive stew cuts like casserole or braising steak can also be used for a robust and flavorful result.

How can I ensure my Greek Beef Cheek Stew turns out tender?

The key is slow cooking. By slowly braising the beef cheeks with tomatoes, red wine, and aromatic spices, the meat becomes incredibly tender and flavorful. Cooking it a day in advance also helps the flavors to meld and intensify.

Can I add vegetables to my Greek Beef Cheek Recipe?

Absolutely! While the traditional recipe focuses on the rich flavors of beef, tomatoes, and spices, you can add vegetables like carrots or butternut squash to enhance the dish and add nutritional value.

What sides pair well with Greek Beef Cheek Stew?

This stew is wonderfully versatile. In Greece, it’s often served over pasta like orzo or penne. It also pairs beautifully with creamy mashed potatoes, fluffy rice, golden fries, or even crusty bread. For a balanced meal, consider adding wilted spinach, steamed green beans, or tender broccoli as sides.

Can I use fresh tomatoes instead of tinned ones?

Yes, you can use either fresh or tinned tomatoes depending on your preference and availability. Both options will contribute richly to the stew’s flavor profile.

What spices are essential for authentic Greek Beef Cheek Recipe?

Essential spices include bay leaves, a cinnamon stick, and cloves. These warm spices create a distinctive aroma and deepen the flavor of the stew, making it quintessentially Greek.

Is red wine necessary for this recipe?

While red wine adds richness and depth to the stew, you could substitute it with additional beef broth if preferred. However, the wine’s unique flavor complements the beef and spices impeccably.
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Author: Bob

With over 20 years in Bioinformatics and AI in Molecular Diagnostics, Bob Stavrou advises BiCos, focusing on authenticating OLIVE OIL DNA. He's also a passionate contributor to YouTube Cooking with Greek People and appeared on Greek TV show Savvatokiriako Me Ton Manesi, bridging science and culinary arts. Watch it on Alpha TV.

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