As the evenings get shorter and the weather gets colder there is nothing quite like this rich comforting pasta dish to warm the soul! Making your own pasta may seem like a daunting task if you have never done it before but the results are well worth the extra bit of effort. If you want to speed up this dish use a good quality dry or fresh pasta. We recommend paradelle or fettucine as the wider flatter pasta noodle stands up to this rich and hearty dish. The Beef Cheeks are a good value cut of meat that suit a low and slow cooking method. If you have a pressure cooker you can cook the cheeks in this as an alternative to a slow braise.
25ml olive oil
Beef Cheek Ragu
1 kg beef cheeks trimmed
1 carrot diced
2 sticks celery diced
1 large onion diced
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 bay leaves
5-6 sprigs of thyme
2 tbsp tomato paste
600ml red wine
500ml meaty beef stock/ marrow stock
Salt & pepper
Method for the Pasta Dough
Place the flour in a bowl or on a board. Create a well in the centre and mix the eggs and oil bit by bit until everything is combined. Knead the dough (which works the gluten in the flour) until a lovely smooth ball of dough is achieved. This can be done in a mixing bowl with a dough hook and hand kneaded to finish.
Wrap the ball of dough in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least half an hour before using. When using a machine to roll your pasta, make sure it’s clamped firmly to a clean work surface before you start (use the longest available work surface you have).
Dust work surface with flour, take a section of dough and flatten with your fingertips or a rolling pin into a rectangle shape. Set the pasta machine at its widest setting – and roll the pasta dough through it. Lightly dust the pasta with flour if it sticks at all. Fold the dough by putting one side into the middle, then fold the other side over that to form three layers, as if you’re folding a letter, pressing lightly on the top of the piece of dough to seal it. Repeat this process three/four times until a uniform shape is achieved.
Then click the machine down a setting and roll the pasta dough through again. Repeat this step twice on each setting moving down a setting each time. Stop at the second last or last setting. Cut the dough into strips roughly 2.5cm/1in wide using a knife or machine attachment if available. Sprinkle a tray with flour and set the strips aside being careful they are not clumped together. The pasta can be set aside or used immediately.
Method for the Cheek Ragu
Prepare the Beef Cheeks by removing any sinews or ask your butcher to prepare them for you. Heat a heavy based frying pan and sear the cheeks until golden brown on all sides – approx 5-7 minutes. Remove beef cheeks and set aside.
Add vegetables to pan, turn down to a medium heat and cook for 4- 5 minutes. Add wine and reduce by half, then add the stock and bring to a simmer. Add tomato paste, herbs & salt and pepper. Place beef cheeks in an ovenproof dish or casserole pot and if needed top with a little water until cheeks are submerged. Cover and place in oven at 150C for 3 hours until cheeks are tender and pull apart easily.
Remove the cheeks, discard thyme sprigs, and bay leaves. Place the sauce in a pan on a low heat and reduce braising liquid by 1/3 – approx 15-20 mins until a nice coating consistency is achieved. Add the cheeks back into the liquid and shred into large chunks. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Cook the pasta in a pot of salted boiling water for approx. 3 minutes until just al dente. Add the pasta to the sauce and mix. Add some pasta water to the mix, this has starch from the pasta and helps thicken the sauce and helps the sauce cling to the pasta. Finish with the grated parmesan and chopped parsley and a small dollop of ricotta.