800 grams ox cheekscut on a 45 degree angle to 1-2 cm thick.
1 carrotfine dice
2 stalks celeryfine dice
1 medium onionfine dice
3 clove garlic
30 small button mushroomscut in half down centre
3 Bay Leaves
1 cup red wine
2 cups Veal Stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Ox cheek, I can see you scrunching up your nose in disgust as you read that, but trust me once you’ve tried it you’ll be wondering why you haven’t been eating it all along and why you can’t get it everywhere. Or maybe you are already familiar with ox cheeks and are here to get another recipe for this fabulous ingredient.
This recipe, as most great classic dishes, was probably created out of sheer economic necessity. Necessity of peasants who could not afford to be wasteful with any part of the animal and had to ensure that everything went to some sort of use. With these humble beginnings, I find it rather interesting to note that dishes like this are now only found on the menus of the world’s finest restaurants, but I suppose if they are to be re-introduced into society what better place to start than at the top.
You don’t need much in the way of culinary skills to make this dish, but what you do need is patience, patience to allow the oven do all the work as the lovely meat braises away in those flavoursome juices. Braising is another classic technique that I am glad to see making a comeback, and not only in fine restaurants but in the mainstream as well. Believe it or not, there is an entire movement out there to bring about awareness and enthusiasm for food cooked slowly. Anyhow on with the recipe.
- Preheat oven to 160 degrees (320 fahrenheit).
- Place the red wine in a small saucepan and reduce to 1/5th of its original volume.
- In a medium saucepan sauté off the carrot, celery onion and garlic until soft, add the wine, stock, tomato paste, bay leaves and reduce to a simmer (depending on whether you used a home made veal stock or packaged beef stock you may need to thicken the sauce at the end of the cooking).
- In a large fry pan sauté the mushrooms in a little butter and oil until lightly browned, add the mushrooms to the sauce using a slotted spoon or tongs to avoid putting the oil into the sauce.
- Place some flour in a wide dish or bowl and season liberally with salt and pepper.
- Coat the slices of cheek in the seasoned flour and sear in the mushroom pan, you may need to add a little more butter and oil at this stage.
- Transfer the seared and browned slices of cheek to an ovenproof dish and cover with the sauce, cover the tray with foil and bake in the oven for 1.5 hrs.
- Remove the foil, turn the cheeks and bake another 1 hr, (should be very tender by now, if not keep cooking and check every 15-20 minutes until they are almost falling apart) remove the bay leaves (discard) fill 4 big glasses of red and serve with anything or nothing else.
- Yes I am aware you have a mountain of dishes, but you have 2-3 hrs to do it while the oven does all the hard work.