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Beef Cheek Vodka Bolognese

November 21, 2023 • 0 comments

Beef Cheek Vodka Bolognese
Beef Cheeks can be difficult to find at the store but are easily purchased at Wanda Farm. Many home cooks may not be familiar with cooking this cut. When cooked low and slow (or under pressure), Beef Cheeks are meltl-in-your-mouth tender and juicy. The meat is ideal for barbacoa (birria, tacos, burritos), stews, or soups.


  • (2-3 lbs.) Beef Cheek
  • (2-3 Tbsp.) Olive Oil
  • (4-5 Cloves) Fresh Garlic
  • (1 Large) Onion, chopped
  • (3) Fresh Carrots, chopped
  • (2 tsp.) Dried Oregano
  • (3) Stalks Celery, chopped
  • (3) Bay Leaves
  • (2 C) Organic Beef Broth
  • (2 Cans) Quality Cherry Tomatoes
  • (3 Tbsp.) Tomato Paste
  • (28 oz Can) Crushed Tomatoes
  • (1 Tbsp.) Fresh Rosemary
  • (1 Tbsp.) Fresh Thyme
  • (1 C) Heavy Cream
  • (1/2 tsp.) Salt
  • (1/4 tsp.) Fresh Cracked Pepper
  • (1 1/4 C) Grated Parmesan, divided
  • (1.25 oz. Package) Fresh Basil, chopped
  • (1/2 C) Vodka
  • (1 lb.) Pappardelle Pasta
  • (1 1/2 tsp.) Fish Sauce
  • (1 1/2 tsp.) Sugar


Beef Cheeks are the facial cheek of the animal found near the jaw. This cut can be tough, so cooking it slowly is best. I had planned to braise them in the oven similarly to how I make Braised Beef Short Ribs, but I didn't have the time. So, I used my trusty Instant Pot to cut the time in half.

Having never made beef cheeks I wasn't sure what to expect once it was cooked. The meat is very similar to beef short ribs, beef oxtail, or chuck roast making this a versatile cut of meat. Instead of doing a stew-type dish, I wanted to use the beef cheeks to make a bolognese-style pasta dish. This recipe is for making a vodka cream sauce but feel free to omit the vodka and/or cream, depending on your taste.


Step 1: Chop the celery, onion, carrots, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, and mince the garlic. Set them all aside.

Step 2: Remove any fat from the Beef Cheeks, cut them into 2" chunks, and season with salt and pepper.

Step 3: Press the saute button on the Instant Pot. When the front of the Instant Pot reads HOT, add the Olive Oil and let it warm for about 10 seconds.

Step 4: Sear the beef cheeks on all sides, remove, and set aside.

You can substitute a Dutch Oven for the Instant Pot. If cooking in a Crock Pot, sear the beef cheeks in a pan on the stove.


Step 5: Add the chopped vegetables, garlic, and spices to the pot and saute for 3-4 minutes until the vegetables soften.

Step 6: Add a couple of tablespoons of beef broth to deglaze the pot with a spoon (scrape any cooked bits off the bottom). Then add the remaining broth. Pour in the cans of cherry tomatoes with the juice, the tomato paste, and the crushed tomatoes. Give it all a good stir.

If using a Crock Pot, put the remaining broth and ingredients into the crock.

Step 7: Add the beef cheek chunks back into the pot with any juices from the plate. Close and seal the Instant Pot and cook on High pressure for 60 minutes. Leave for a 15-minute natural pressure release when cooking has completed.

Dutch Oven cooking: Braise the beef cheeks in a Dutch Oven in the oven at 325*F for 3 - 3 1/2 hours.

Crock Pot cooking: Cook on Low for 8 hours.

Step 8: While the Instant Pot is doing a natural pressure release, cook the pasta as directed on the package.

Step 9: Release any remaining pressure and open the pot. Use a slotted spoon to remove the beef chunks from the pot and set aside in a bowl. The beef cheeks should be fork-tender and easy to shred. When all the meat is shredded or chunked to your liking, cover it with foil to keep it warm.


Step 10: Remove the 3 bay leaves from the Instant Pot and toss. Taste the pasta sauce and adjust the seasoning as desired. For reference, I added the optional 1 1/2 tsp. of fish sauce and 1 1/2 tsp of sugar. Using an immersion blender or regular blender, blend the sauce until smooth. If using a blender pour the blended sauce back into the Instant Pot.

Step 11: Whisk in the cup of heavy cream and 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese. Keep the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese for garnishing. Sprinkle all but 2 Tbsps. of the chopped basil into the sauce. Use the reserved 2 Tbsps. for garnishing.

Step 12: Add the desired amount of sauce and beef to the noodles and plate. Garnish with a sprinkle of fresh chopped basil and grated parmesan cheese.


Recipe by Victoria Cook:

Victoria is a home cook turned host and cook for 100+ episodes of a private cooking show for wellness practitioners and their patients. As a lover of ethnic cuisines, she uses a variety of spices and fresh ingredients to make flavorful healthy meals for her husband and son. She loves to challenge herself with new recipes and if she can make them in an electric pressure cooker, she’s even happier.