Beer-braised beef cheek, pearl barley risotto, malted onions & ale sauce

Beer-braised beef cheek, pearl barley risotto, malted onions & ale sauce

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
(4 ratings)

Prep: 25 mins Cook: 4 hrs plus at least 6 hrs marinating

More effort

Serves 6

This hearty dish uses a thrifty cut of meat. Marinate, then slow cook for a tender finish and serve on a soft, creamy risotto

Nutrition and extra info

  • freeze the beef and risotto in separate containers

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal920
  • fat55g
  • saturates29g
  • carbs45g
  • sugars9g
  • fibre1g
  • protein56g
  • salt1g
Save to My Good Food
Please sign in or register to save recipes.


    For the braised cheek

    • 3 beef cheeks, sinew removed



      The classic choice of meat for a British Sunday roast. Beef is full of flavour, as…

    • 500ml dark ale
    • 2 garlic cloves
    • 1 bunch fresh thyme


      This popular herb grows in Europe, especially the Mediterranean, and is a member of the mint…

    • 1 bay leaf
    • 750ml beef stock

    For the malted onions

    • 500ml dark ale
    • 3 small white onions, unpeeled



      Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

    • olive oil
      olive oil

      Olive oil

      ol-iv oyl

      Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

    • 25g butter



      Butter is a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

    For the pearl barley risotto

    • 1¼l chicken stock
    • 250g pearl barley
    • 6 garlic cloves
    • 300ml double cream
    • 50g grated parmesan



      Parmesan is a straw-coloured hard cheese with a natural yellow rind and rich, fruity flavour. It…

    • few drops lemon juice


    1. Put the beef cheeks in a dish, cover with the ale and add the garlic, thyme and bay leaf, then leave to marinate for at least 6 hrs – or overnight.

    2. Heat oven to 140C/120C fan/gas 1. Strain off the cheeks and transfer the marinating liquid, garlic and herbs to a large flameproof casserole dish and bring to the boil. In a frying pan, brown the beef cheeks in a little oil until caramelised on both sides. Add the cheeks to the casserole dish with the marinade and pour in enough beef stock to cover. Bring to the boil, cover, then braise in the oven for 4 hrs until the cheeks are very tender. Every so often, skim off any fat from the surface to keep the stock clean.

    3. While the beef is in the oven, make the malted onions. Put the ale in a frying pan, add the whole onions, cover and simmer until the onions are tender, about 20 mins. Leave to cool completely, then remove the skin and slice the onions into sixths and set aside.

    4. Once the beef is cooked, remove the cheeks, herbs and garlic and set aside, then reduce the stock rapidly until it is syrupy. Return the cheeks to the pan and glaze with the sticky reduction, then keep warm until needed.

    5. Roughly 40 mins before you’re ready to serve, make the risotto. Put the chicken stock in a large pan and bring it to the boil. Add the barley, then cook for 15 mins. Remove from the heat, strain, then tip the barley into a medium-sized pan.

    6. Place the garlic in a small pan with the double cream and bring to the boil. Simmer for 3 mins, then transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside about 50ml of the garlic cream and pour the remainder over the barley. Keep warm over a low heat.

    7. Meanwhile, separate the layers of malted onions and finish by frying in a hot pan, with a little oil and butter, until golden.

    8. Just before serving, add the Parmesan and lemon juice to the barley risotto and salt, to taste. Spoon on to the centre of each plate, then slice the cheeks and arrange on top of the risotto. Place 3 malted onion wedges around the side and drizzle over the reduced ale stock.

    You may also like

    Comments, questions and tips

    Sign in or create your My Good Food account to join the discussion.
    Purple Eeyore
    10th Dec, 2016
    Didn't do the onions and made other adaptations but gorgeous. Pearl barley needed nearer and hour for me.
    18th Aug, 2016
    I love this recipe but for me the risotto or the malted onions deflects from the beef and made the meal very stodgy. I now serve it with plain rice and vegetables and it's always a success.
    1st Jan, 2015
    Made this for 4 and it was really delicious. Meat incredibly tender. All the processes were really simple to follow. Only negative of recipe: says to put aside 50ml garlic cream but then I couldn't find anything saying what to do with it?!
    Julia M
    9th Feb, 2014
    Just cooked this for two and it was very good. The cheek was really tender and an interesting flavour with the beer based sauce. We didn't have the rice though so can't comment - maybe rice next time!
    19th Feb, 2018
    I think that this produced a delicious meal but there seemed to be a few flaws in the recipe. Is 15 minutes cooking time for the pearl barley correct? What should I do with the 50ml of reserved cream?
    Be the first to suggest a tip for this recipe...Got your own twist on this recipe? Or do you have suggestions for possible swaps and additions? We’d love to hear your ideas.
    Want to receive regular food and recipe web notifications from us?