It’s Vegan January and for those who don’t want to, or can’t give up meat completely, choosing well- bred, grass- fed meat is a good starting point to making a better contribution to reducing the environmental impact of meat.

It’s good to choose the cheaper cuts of meat and slow cook them for maximum flavour. Beef cheek is a great example. It’s a working muscle and is tough with a lot of sinews. When cooked over four hours these soften and melt into a delicious flavour.

It also costs at least a tenth of prime cuts of steak, good for the budget as well.


2-3 beef cheeks, about 500g

sea salt and black pepper

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic

a piece dried chilli

2 medium onion, finely chopped

2 sticks celery, peeled and finely chopped

2 carrots, finely chopped

1 teaspoon cinnamon

400 ml red wine, preferably Italian

2 x 450g plum tomatoes, whizzed

2 bay leaves, 2 sprigs thyme

Fresh basil

150g pappardelle per person

Pre Heat oven 160ºC/325ºF/gas 3

If the beef cheeks have sinews on top use a sharp knife to cut underneath, pull and trim it away. You can ask the butcher to do this for you.

Slice each cheek into 2-3 pieces.

Season each piece well.

Choose a heavy bottomed casserole with lid.

Warm the oil and, in one layer, brown each side of the meat well to start to caramelise the flavours. Set aside.

Warm the garlic and chilli in the saucepan, adding a little more oil if needed.

Add the chopped onions, celery and carrot, stir and with the lid on, lower the heat and sauté gently for 5 minutes until the vegetables are softened and translucent.

Stir in the cinnamon, raise the heat and add the red wine.

Boil for 10 minutes until all the alcohol has been evaporated.

Return the beef and any juices to the pan, add the tomatoes, herbs and season,

Replace the lid and cook in the warm oven for 4 to 4 ½ hours or so until the beef is soft and tender and the sugo is thick and delicious.

Check during the cooking adding a little hot water if it looks dry.

Once the meat is tender check the seasoning and refresh with some fresh basil leaves.

This recipe will serve up to 6 portions. It freezes very well

When ready to serve reheat the sugo you require. Boil the pasta, about150g per person, until al dente drain and dress with the sugo and soft tender meat together in one plate.

Add plenty of freshly grated parmesan.