Braised Ox Cheeks Recipe
This is a wonderful wintery (or any season really) recipe that everyone will absolutely adore. This is how Gordon Ramsey describes Ox Cheeks, “Beef cheeks have got tongues wagging in the food world. Lips smacking too. Previously seen as a by-product of beef production, beef cheeks (sometimes called ox cheeks) aren’t even mentioned in many meat cookbooks. Yet they are becoming more popular and easier to find as chefs strive to promote inexpensive and lesser-known cuts.” I could not agree more!
If you have the time on your hands, why not sit back and relax, whilst this delicacy manifests itself in your oven. We used a lovely northern Italian wine which really made al the difference. TOP TIP – buy a little extra than you actually need so you can enjoy a glass or two during the 4 hours cooking time - it’s a chef’s perk.
1.5 kg OX CHEEKS
1 75cl bottle Barolo or Barbera d'Alba red wine
2 onions (use a sweet variety)
4 celery sticks
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
3 tbsp light OLIVE OIL
3 tsp SEA SALT
1 bay leaf
8-10 black peppercorns
1 sprig of rosemary or 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
500ml BEEF STOCK
freshly ground black pepper
Trim the cheeks of any excess fat, but do not remove all of it. Place them in a large earthenware bowl or plastic container, add half the wine, then cover and leave in a cool place (7-8°C) for 12-24 hours. If you can't find such a cool spot, you can put them in the fridge.
When you are ready to cook, lift the meat out of the marinade and dry it on kitchen paper. Set aside, and reserve the marinade for later use.
Chop the onions fairly thickly but keep the carrot and celery whole, as they will be discarded later.
Heat half the oil in a large, cast-iron casserole dish (an enamelled one is ideal). Add the onions, carrots and celery and garlic and stir them every now and then over a high heat to ensure they are coated in oil.
Just as the onions begin to colour, take all the vegetables out of the dish and set aside.
Add the remaining oil to the casserole dish. Sprinkle the cheeks with the salt, then place in the dish and brown thoroughly. Return the vegetables to the dish and add the bay leaf, peppercorns, juniper berries and rosemary. Mix with a wooden spoon, then add the marinade and remainder of the wine. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.
Increase the heat to deglaze the dish and evaporate the alcohol. Now add the stock, ensuring it is level with the meat but not above it. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer on the hob for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 160°C/gas mark 3.
Transfer the casserole to the oven for 3 hours, turning the meat every 20 or 30 minutes. If the liquid reduces too much and there's a danger of the dish drying out, add any remaining stock or some water. By the end of the coonng time, the liquid should have reduced by about half.
When the meat is cooked (it should be tender enough to cut with a fork), discard all the vegetables. Strain the liquid through a sieve, then return it to the casserole.
The dish can be served with boiled or MASHED POTATOES, or polenta, assuming your previous course is not heavy on carbohydrates. If you want to have vegetables with this dish, discard all those in the casserole 15 minutes before the end of the cooling time and add some freshly sliced carrots.