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Slow Cooked Ox Cheeks

The first time I ever ate ox cheeks was at a food festival in Hyde Park, served by none other than Michel Roux Jnr.  I don’t pretend that this dish is an approximation of that, but it is tender, tasty and pretty good value.  Ox cheeks need slow cooking as their fibrous meat can other wise be tough and there is a glutinous streak that goes through the middle which needs to melt down into the sauce.  Bear in mind that meat cuts such as this often shrink during long cooking and so what seems like a huge amount when raw translates to just enough when cooked!  This serves 6.

1 tbsp olive oil
2 packs ox cheeks
250ml red wine
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 onions, diced
A few of stalks of thyme
2 carrots, peeled and diced
Salt and pepper
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp plain flour
1 beef stock cube
2tsp balsamic vinegar

1) Trim the large fat-covered membrane off the cheeks with sharp scissors.  Combine the red wine, garlic and thyme in a large bowl and marinate the meat for up to 24 hours.

2) Heat  the olive oil in a large frying pan.  Seal the ox cheeks on both sides quickly until nicely browned.  Using a couple of wooden spoons or tongs, remove them to the slow cooker.

3) Add the diced onion and carrots to the frying pan and cook over a medium heat until softened.  Add the marinade, bring to the boil and then lower the heat to a simmer for 5 minutes.  Pour all this over the beef.  Add everything except the butter, flour, and balsamic vinegar.  Stir in three quarters of a pint of water and the stock cube and leave it to cook for anything between 18 and 24 hours.  This part of the recipe takes about 15 minutes and I usually do it before going to bed so that the dish is perfect for next day’s dinner.

4) About half an hour before you want to eat, remove the pieces of cheek to a plate.  Melt the butter and add the flour to it, then add this paste to the sauce and liquidise with a soup whizzer.  Add the balsamic vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cut the beef into 8 pieces and carefully put these back in the sauce.

5) We like to eat this with creamy mashed potatoes and some new peas or stir-fried asparagus.

By Tiffany Nestour

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