We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Are Veal Cheeks?

Dan Harkins
By
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
DelightedCooking is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At DelightedCooking, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Though not the most storied cut of veal, the slow-cooked cheeks of baby cows are considered by many to be a delicacy. Referring to the actual cheeks of the mammalian face and not the rump versions, veal cheeks are the heavily worked jowl muscles of the young cow, used to suckle and eat grass. To impart needed tenderness, chefs often pound and then braise this meat in a fragrant and flavorful broth.

Veal cheeks are not always readily available, often finding their way into ground veal instead. Butchers can easily provide these cuts upon request, though. In some areas of Europe like France and Italy, cheeks may be offered alongside the more common veal cuts like the loin, rib, breast, shoulder, shank and rump, from which cutlets and chops can be sliced.

Before beginning the braising process, veal cheeks must be properly prepared. Due to the cut's lack of natural tenderness, many cooks will pound the steaks first with a meat hammer to soften much of the toughest connective tissue. Afterward, garlic, salt and pepper might be rubbed onto the meat, leaving the cutlets intact or cutting them into large chunks.

The true flavoring and marination will occur during the long cooking process. One recipe at the Slow Food Kitchen Web site, from Italian culinary star Massimo Bottura, leaves four lamb cheek cutlets in a long, slow bath for as long as 30 hours, in a pressure cooker set to a steady 150°F (about 68°C). With the cheeks are a simple, yet diverse, blend of nurturing ingredients: chopped celery, onion and carrot as well as beef stock, reduced beer, a splash of balsamic vinegar, and some olive oil.

The possibilities for veal cheeks ingredients are as bountiful as a chef's skill and budget. Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse trims the cooking time to about five-and-a-half hours for 5 lbs. (about 2.3 kg) of cheeks, braising the cheeks in 2 cups (about 15 oz.) each of Madeira and red table wine. That is not all that carries this saucy stew, though, which Lagasse pairs with polenta. Braising in a Dutch oven or sealed broiler, inside an oven set to 275°F (about 135°C), the cheeks are bathing in a deeply flavorful broth of wine, oil, water, tomato paste, garlic, carrots, onion, celery, bay leaf, red pepper, rosemary, peppercorns, salt, pepper and various Italian seasonings like oregano and sweet basil. Lagasse, of course, suggests that chefs also include a dash or two of his Essence® spice blend to add a slightly Cajun touch.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Dan Harkins
By Dan Harkins
Dan Harkins, a former military professional, brings his diverse life experiences to his writing. After earning his journalism degree, he spent more than two decades honing his craft as a writer and editor for various publications. Dan’s debut novel showcases his storytelling skills and unique perspective by drawing readers into the story’s captivating narrative.
Discussion Comments
By browncoat — On May 18, 2013

@Ana1234 - I don't think the age of the calves is a problem so much as how they are often treated. Since the tenderness of the meat is the important thing, they are often separated from their mothers and prevented from moving so they won't toughen their muscles.

This is why the cheeks are not used as often as other parts. They are the one part in a veal calf that can't be kept from use if the calf is going to live and grow for the few weeks it has to live.

Life and death is just a part of the world and we all exist in the world. But inflicting unnecessary suffering on creatures so that we can have a slightly more tender cut of meat is disgusting. We're an empathetic species, and that is one of our strengths. We should be able to get past this kind of thing.

By Ana1234 — On May 18, 2013

@clintflint - The thing is, veal calves are usually the unwanted males born to milking calves. They would be killed anyway, since they aren't worth keeping. They don't have the efficiency of beef cattle and they won't be useful as anything except a stud on a dairy farm (and you only need one or two of those).

I'd rather they were used for something than just killed and put on landfill, personally. They do the same thing with egg laying chickens, but you don't hear about it as much.

By clintflint — On May 17, 2013

I'm not a huge fan of veal, to be honest. I can't get past the fact that the calves are so young and they get treated so badly. When you talk about lamb, it's generally considered to be anything under a year old and mostly it will be quite close to a year, because that's more efficient. A year is a long time for a sheep, long enough for it to live in the open air and so forth.

But veal calves are often killed only a few days or weeks after they are born. It's just too young.

Dan Harkins
Dan Harkins
Dan Harkins, a former military professional, brings his diverse life experiences to his writing. After earning his...
Learn more
DelightedCooking, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

DelightedCooking, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.