- 50g butter
- 3 ox cheeks, trimmed of gristle and halved (from Waitrose or good butchers – see tip)
- 2 tbsp plain flour, seasoned with 1 tsp sea salt flakes
- 150g smoked bacon lardons
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 3 bay leaves
- 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 5 tbsp tomato purée
- 1 bottle of good red wine
- 1½ tsp sea salt flakes
- Preheat the oven to 150°C/fan 130°C/gas 2. In a flameproof casserole that will fit the wine and ox cheeks snugly and has a lid, melt the butter over a medium heat.
- Roll the ox cheeks in the seasoned flour, then pat off any excess. When the butter sizzles, add the meat – it should sizzle as soon as it enters the casserole. Cook, turning, until well browned all over. (You may need to do this in batches.) Take care not to burn the butter.
- Remove the meat and set aside. Add the lardons and fry until lightly coloured. Add the onions and the bay leaves and cook for 6-8 minutes until the onions are just soft. Stir in the garlic, then the tomato purée. Stir occasionally until the purée starts to catch the bottom of the pan, then cook, stirring, for 3 minutes.
- Add the wine, then return the meat to the casserole. Bring the stew to barely a simmer, then cover and put to the oven. Cook for 5 hours or until the cheeks are tender when prodded with a cutlery knife. Turn the cheeks occasionally during the cooking time.
- Stir through the salt, then serve with mash and veg, if you like.
- The portions are generous, so you could make the dish go further by cutting the meat into chunks. If you can’t find ox cheeks, use beef shin instead.
- Cook the stew up to a day in advance. Cool, then cover and keep in the fridge.
To freeze, bag up the cooled stew in batches and keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Label the serving size of each batch so you can see at a glance. Defrost before reheating.
- Ox cheeks need slow, gentle cooking. They weigh around 500g each, so half per person is a good quantity if you’re thinking of scaling up the recipe.