Chef's Recipes

Beef cheek tacos with smoky red salsa

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By Ben Shewry
  • 30 mins preparation
  • 3 hrs 20 mins cooking
  • Serves 8
  • Print
Beef cheek tacos with smoky red salsa


  • ¼ onion, diced
  • ½ cup chopped coriander (firmly packed)
  • 8 cooked tortillas
  • 4 radishes, coarsely chopped
Braised beef cheeks
  • ½ large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 35 ml canola oil
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 each whole clove and star anise
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1½ tbsp coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 500 gm beef cheek, cut into large dice (about 4cm x 7cm)
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tomato, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ red capsicum, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
Smoky red salsa
  • ¼ Spanish onion, skin on
  • 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 ripe tomato
  • 1/3 red capsicum
  • ½ long red chilli
  • 2 tsp lime juice


  • 1
    For braised beef cheeks, process onion and garlic in a food processor, then place in a saucepan with the oil and stir occasionally over medium-low heat until garlic is light golden (10 minutes). Meanwhile, finely grind whole spices in a spice mill or coffee grinder, then add to onion mixture with cinnamon, paprika, beef and cocoa. Add a good pinch of salt and stir occasionally until spices have caramelised but not burnt (8-10 minutes). Process tomato and red capsicum in a food processor until smooth, then add to beef, stir well and cover with a tightfitting lid. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until meat is tender (3 hours). Adjust seasoning, shred beef with a fork and add red wine vinegar. Keep warm until needed.
  • 2
    For smoky red salsa, grill onion, garlic, tomato, capsicum and chilli on a char-grill plate over very high heat until completely blackened on all sides (about 15 minutes). Allow vegetables to cool to room temperature, then peel onion and garlic, and remove seeds and skin from tomato, capsicum and chilli. Place all vegetables in a blender with lime juice and a pinch of salt and blend until smooth. Check seasoning. Makes 180ml.
  • 3
    To serve, combine onion and coriander in a small bowl. Briefly warm tortillas in a nonstick pan. Place a tablespoon of braised beef cheeks in the middle of each, scatter a few pieces of radish on top,
    ½ teaspoon of the onion and coriander mix and a teaspoon of the smoky salsa, and serve.