Recipe: Ox cheeks with silky mustard mash, ginger carrots and red wine sauce

Ox cheek is such a wonderful cut of meat, vastly underused of course, and I  recall my first experience of eating it with very fond memories.  Sarah took me to The Kitchin for lunch and this recipe will show just how easy it is to cook this flavoursome piece of meat, as well as how to execute a restaurant quality sauce at home. Hopefully you'll enjoy it even half as much as I did on that occasion.

It's a dirt cheap piece of meat, but it does require some cooking, hence why I've cracked out my trusty slow cooker for this one. You could just as easily use a cast iron casserole dish or a pot on a very low heat, but a slow cooker is a great investment.

As far as the sauce goes, I never see the need for those packets or pre-made sauces you can buy in the supermarket.  It's so easy to make a great sauce or gravy from the cooking juices and a little bit of effort.

Ingredients (serves 2): 

500g ox cheeks, trimmed
Handful of chestnut mushrooms, quartered
2x onions, sliced
1x celery stick, chopped
1x carrot, chopped
2 cloves, garlic, grated
1 tbsp tomato puree
2x rosemary sprigs
Bunch of thyme
300mls red wine
200mls chicken stock
50g butter
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

8x King Edward potatoes, peeled
50g butter
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard (optional)

2 large carrots, cut into the desired shape
1tsp ground ginger
Few cubes of butter
Chicken stock to cover



1) Place the wine, vegetables, herbs and garlic into a bowl.  Place the trimmed ox cheeks into the mix and place in the fridge to marinade overnight.

2) Remove the cheeks from the liquid and strain the wine into a jug.  Set the rest aside and pat dry. Place the pan or slow cooker base on a relatively high heat and sear the seasoned ox cheeks on both sides. Set aside.

3) Reduce the heat slightly and add more oil if required.  Sweat the onion, carrot and celery for 7-8 mins.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then add the tomato puree, stir, and add the herbs. Cook for an additional minute.

4) Add the red wine and bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and reduce by half.  Add the ox cheeks and top up with stock to cover.  Add a touch of seasoning, place the slow cooker base into the unit on the lowest setting and place the lid on.  Leave undisturbed for around 5 hours.

5) For the mash, add the peeled potatoes to cold water and add a generous amount of salt.  Cook until soft and drain into a colander.

6) Strain a few ladles of the cooking liquid into a pot and bring to the boil, turn heat down to a simmer and allow it to reduce until it's spoon coating consistency. Set aside.

7) For the carrots, dissolve the ground ginger in a little of the chicken stock, then add the carrots and top up the stock to cover.  Add salt and bring to the boil, reducing to a simmer at that point.  Cook for 6-7 mins until tender, then drain. At this point, remove the ox cheeks from the slow cooker and allow to rest.

8) When there is no steam coming from the potatoes, pass them through a ricer or use a masher.  Beat in the butter then add  the mustard.  Warm back up in a pan, adding milk to adjust the consistency if needed.  Season.

9) In a frying pan, melt some butter with a splash of oil and saute the mushrooms for 2 mins. At the same time, melt some butter in another pan and add the carrots for the same amount of time. Place a pinch of salt and a crack of pepper in both pans.

11) Whisk in a few cubes of butter to the sauce to give the sauce a silky sheen and richness to it.

12) Return the ox cheeks to the sauce to coat and add the mushrooms to it. .  Place a good dollop of mash onto the plate, then the carrots.  Remove the ox cheeks and put on the plate. Spoon the mushrooms over and  pour the remaining sauce into a just for serving.