Beef cheek, or ox cheek as it is commonly referred to, is a cut I’ve previously overlooked, not because of lack of appeal but mainly as it’s not one I see regularly on butchery counters, or at my local farmers market. After all, it’s not like buying steak as each cow only yields two cheeks. Now that I’ve started cooking my way through Christopher Totter’s , The Whole Cow book, I’ve discovered that’s it’s not difficult to source these lesser cuts once you start talking to your butchers.
“Also known as ox cheeks, these are well worth seeking out for their rich, meaty flavour and tender gelatinous texture”
- Serves 4
- salt and pepper
- 1 kg/2 1/4 lb beef cheeks
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 6 shallots peeled
- 3 carrots, sliced thinly at an angle
- 500ml/18 fl oz/2 cups beef stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 2-3 sprigs of thyme
- Orange Gremolata
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- grated zest of 1 orange
- Pre hear the ven to 150C/300F/Gas 2. Season the beef cheeks. Heat the olive oil in a hot ovenproof casserole and brown the cheeks all over. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the butter and brown the shallots and carrots. Reduce the heat and return the meat to the pan, pour in the stock and bring to a simmer.
- Add the herbs and cover with a cartouche – a disc of greaseproof papercut to snuggly fit the pan, which really keeps the moisture in slow cooked dishes. Cover with a lid and braise in the oven for 3 1/2 – 4 hours. Check the liquid doesn’t reduce too much and top up if necessary. When cooked, the meat should be tender enough to cut with a spoon. Remove from the oven and leave the meat to rest in the liquid for at least 30 minutes – or overnight.
- To make the gremolata, mix together the parsley, garlic and orange zest.
- Using a slotted spoon, left out the meat and the vegetables. Strain the liquid into another pan and simmer to reduce a little. Taste and check the seasoning. Return the meat and vegetables to the sauce and reheat. Slice the beef cheeks and serve with the shallots, carrots and a little of the sauce. Sprinkle a spoonful of gremolata over the cheeks before serving.
With a cooking time of 3 1/2 – 4 hours, this is not a dish to be hurried, and you will be rewarded with a rich, unctuous and comforting dish. Christopher’s recipe is served with orange gremolata, which I felt added a really citrussy and refreshing kick to the dish. The three beef cheeks fed six and I served with new potatoes and broccoli.
This was a real winner in our house and it’s a great dish for a busy weekend. Cook the day before and follow the tip (see below) to wrap in cling film and chill overnight, before serving next day. It’s a recipe I will certainly be cooking again and having grown to love cheaper cuts such as shin of beef in recent years, I’m looking forward to experimenting with beef cheeks in the near future.
My thanks to the very talented chef and author Christopher Trotter for allowing me to reprint the recipe from The Whole Cow.
The Whole Cow by Christopher Trotter is priced at £25. ISBN 978-1-86205-989-4