Ox cheeks are an ingredient I’ve seen in cook books and on cooking programmes, but they’re not something you see on sale at your local supermarket. I had mentally put this dish together and was desperate to get started, so I gave my local butchers a call (sorry to keep banging on about it, but I cannot stress enough how important it is to buy your meat from the butchers. Not only is it generally a better quality than supermarket meat, it’s very often cheaper or at least better value for money!). They keep some in their freezer as demand isn’t particularly high, despite ox cheeks becoming something of a trendy ingredient. They sell them in packs of 2, so I bought 2 x packs. 4 ox cheeks is a lot of meat, and let me tell you what I didn’t know at the time – 4 ox cheeks is not 4 servings. This amount of meat would easily stretch to 6-8 meals.
The photo below is slightly decieving, as I did give myself and Mr Greedy a whole cheek each and it doesn’t look that big, but it was far too much.
I also bought the bone marrow at the butcher. Bone marrow is something I’ll order on the menu at a restaurant when I see it, but I hadn’t cooked it myself before. It turned out to be the easiest part of the dish to cook and I’ll be making it again – next, I’m thinking of making beef brisket, bone marrow and sour dough toast as a starter… But watch this space!
On reflection, I think I’d perhaps add more veg next time. Some asparagus would really help to boost the green colour of the parsley oil and break up the other neutral colours.
braised ox cheek
4 x ox cheeks, trimmed of fat/sinew and left out at room temperature for an hour before cooking
knob of butter
1 tbsp olive oil
3 x shallots, chopped
2 x celery sticks, diced
3 x garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 x bottle of high quality red wine
600ml beef stock
salt and pepper
search the greedygirlgrub blog for my fantastic, fail-safe potato dauphinoise.
roasted bone marrow
1 x 3 inch piece of bone marrow, scraped and cut in half lenghways (ask your butcher to do this for you)
salt and pepper
1 x large onion, sliced
1 tsp olive oil
1/3 can of Guinness Draft
salt and pepper
400g baby carrots, halved lengthways
squeeze of runny honey
salt and pepper
1 x cup of olive oil
1 x handful fresh parsley
red wine and shallot glaze
2 x extra shallots, finely chopped
- these components can be tricky to cook together as the beef requires a very low oven temperature, and everything else requires medium-high heat. you’ll find the best approach is to prep everything while the beef is cooking, and remove from the oven. the braising liquid will keep it hot and continue slowly cooking it while everything else gets its turn! pre-heat the oven to 150ºc (a little lower if you have a powerful fan oven).
- pour the bottle of red wine into a saucepan over a medium-high heat and leave to reduce – it should reduce by half. set aside.
- heat a large, wideset sauce pan/casserole pan over a medium heat. add the butter and olive oil – often when cooking with butter, i also use oil as well to stop it burning. add the shallots and celery and leave to sweat down for 5-10 minutes. whilst the vegetables are softening, pat down the ox cheeks with a coating of flour. i choose to cook the cheeks whole as it keeps the meat tender.
- add finely chopped garlic to the pan and once it’s reached a golden colour, introduce the ox cheeks to the pan. once they’ve browned (but be careful not to cook them!), add the reduced red wine to the pan. leave over the heat for a couple of minutes to allow the meat to soak in the wine flavour. then, add in the beef stock and dried herbs, and season to taste. stir well and ensure the meat is covered by liquid. pop a lid on the pan, and put into the oven for 4 hours.
- the bone marrow is extremely easy to prepare – you simply need to add lots of salt and pepper. the rule is, the more fat in the marrow, the more salt you need to bring out the flavour. pop back in the fridge until you’re ready to cook them.
- to prep the carrots, you simply put them in a small ovenproof dish, and drizzle over 2 tbsp honey and scatter over some dried herbs. season, and use a spoon to mix and ensure the vegetables are evenly covered.
- for the parsley oil, blanch the parsley (leaves and stem) for 10 seconds. drain and cool under cold water, then blot out as much moisture as possible using kitchen towels. pop the olive oil and the blanched parsley into a blender and pulse until combined. leave in the fridge until ready to serve.
- no more prep is required until the ox cheeks come out of the oven! fast forward 4 hours and remove the cheeks from the oven. increase oven heat to 200ºc (190 if your oven is a little more powerful). remove the ox cheeks from the braising liquid and set aside.
- put your bone marrow (fat side up) on a baking tray, and pop them in the oven alongside the baby carrots. each take 20 minutes to cook.
- in a deep frying pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and add the onions ready for malting. once they begin to soften, pour in the guinnes, scatter over the dried herbs and season to taste. bring the heat up to medium-high and leave it to work its magic.
- add 4-5 ladlefuls of braising liquid to a wideset pan and add in the additional chopped shallots. bring up to a high heat, stirring to prevent the shallot from sticking. you should notice this liquid reduce very quickly – it needs to be very thick in otder to coat the meat like a glaze.
- once the sauce is thick and shiny, bring the heat down and add the ox cheeks to the pan. not only does this coat them in the glaze, but it also brings the temperature back up again.
- everything should be ready at the same time and ready to plate! see my photo for inspiration – you will need to slice the cheeks like i have in order to serve everybody.