This Ox Cheek recipe is simple to make and an absolute joy to eat. Ox cheeks can be tricky to find and butchers don’t often keep them in stock, although you can get lucky. We got ours from the wonderful Balgove Larder in St. Andrews, but any good butcher should be able to acquire them for you given enough notice. We would normally allocate 1 generous sized cheek per person, however, this dish does make wonderful leftovers so you can never have too much.
Simply cook the cheeks for a few hours in a heavy pan (with lid), and serve straight out the oven. The longer you leave them in, the more tender they will be. The fat in the cheeks melts down and the meat becomes so tender that only a fork is required – certainly easy eating! This recipe can also be made with pigs’ cheeks, but a quality, Scottish ox cheek is certainly something to rival a meal in any restaurant.
A buttery and creamy mashed potato or some smashed early season Jersey Royals are both delightful accompaniments, as is a celeriac and kale mash recommended by Nigel Slater. Celeriac is available from September – April and can be served boiled or roasted.
The juices from the meat, combined with the beer, cider and stock will make a thick, luxurious glaze. Add a spoonful of redcurrant jelly and some wholegrain mustard to give it an extra kick. Leftovers can be reaheated, shredded, mixed with chopped vegetables and made into a stew or topped with puff pastry and transformed into a delicious pie.
- Serves 5
- 3 tbsp Rapeseed Oil
- 800g Ox Cheeks
- 4 Shallots
- 3 Apples, peeled - sharp variety
- 500ml Beef Stock
- 300ml Cider
- 400ml Beer (We like Samuel Smith's Apricot Beer)
- Salt - we love the Peat Smoked Hebridean Sea Salt
- 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
- 1 tbsp redcurrant jelly
- 1 large celeriac
- A good dollop of butter
- 250g Kale, cooked and chopped
- Warm the oil in a large pan over a moderate heat. Dust the pigs' cheeks with salt and pepper, then brown them lightly on both sides in the oil. While the cheeks are browning, peel the onions and quarter them.
- Remove the cheeks from the pan to a plate, then add the onions to the pan and let them soften.
- Set the oven at 160C/gas mark 3.
- Once the onions are tender and translucent, return the cheeks to the pan, cut the apples into quarters, removing the cores as you go, then add them to the pan together with the stock, the cider and the beer.
- Bring the liquid to the boil, then immediately lower the heat, season with salt and pepper, cover with a lid, and transfer to the oven.
- Bake the cheeks, occasionally turning them in their cooking liquor, for a minimum of three hours and a maximum of 5.
- Remove from the oven and allow the cheeks to rest in a warm place.
- Place the baking dish over a moderate heat and let the sauce reduce in volume a little until it is thick enough to coat the cheeks. Return the cheeks to the sauce, check the seasoning, and serve with the kale colcannon.
- Peel and trim the celeriac then cut into large pieces. Cook in boiling water, or steam, until tender enough to crush with a fork. Trim the kale and remove any tough stalks. Cut or tear the leaves into small pieces, then cook in boiling, lightly salted water for two or three minutes until tender, then drain.
- Drain the celeriac thoroughly then crush with a vegetable masher or in a food mixer with a paddle attachment. Add a little butter if you wish. Fold in the drained kale, season and serve.