There is nothing better on a cold dark afternoon or evening than a warming winter stew or casserole.
One of the advantages of stews and casseroles is that you can use cheaper cuts of meat and because they are cooked over a long period of time they produce stunning results.
When cooking a beef casserole most of us would probably go for a shin or brisket of beef, but have you ever thought about using the cheek, traditionally referred to as “ox” cheeks. They are not seen very often in supermarkets but any good butcher should be able to source some for you, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at their price, flavour and how easy they are to cook.
The cheek is a very lean cut of meat, because of all the chewing the cow does therefore it’s very important if cooking in the oven to cook on a low heat for at least three hours (four to five is best) in order to break down the muscle and produce a tender braise.
You could of course cook the ox cheeks in a slow cooker or if pushed for time a pressure cooker, we use the sous vide technique here at the Market Bistro and cook them on a very low heat in a water bath.
In a large saucepan over a medium heat, sauté the onion in a little oil, once turning colour transfer to casserole dish. Now seal the ox cheeks in the oil until brown and caramelised then also to transfer to the casserole dish, add the garlic, carrots, other root vegetables, star anise and beef stock.
Deglaze the pan with the red wine and add to the ingredients, add herbs and cook for three hours at 150 C. Serve with creamy mash and winter greens and a glass of red wine.
Recipe (serves 4)
2 ox cheeks
2 large onions, sliced or chopped
400 grams of chopped carrot
400 grams of root vegetables (e.g. Swede, parsnip, pumpkin)
4 cloves of chopped garlic
300 ml of red wine
300ml of beef stock
Handful of chopped herbs
1 star anise