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Braised Ox Cheeks with Celeriac Mash Recipe

Updated on November 13, 2015
Braised ox cheek and red wine jous on celeriac mash
Braised ox cheek and red wine jous on celeriac mash

The thought alone of eating ox cheeks will doubtlessly prove off-putting to many people. Like so many perhaps less popular cuts of meat, however, once you get by the perceived stigma, cook the item in a suitable fashion and taste it, your reservations will vanish in an instant as the delicious, succulent and ultra tender meat quite literally melts in your mouth. It is often said about certain cuts of beef in particular that when they are slow braised in this way, they are so tender they can be eaten with a spoon rather than a fork. That very much proved to be the case in this instance.

Ox cheeks are a fairly inexpensive cut of meat but you perhaps won't often see them on display in supermarkets due to their unfortunate lack of popularity. If you are having trouble finding them in your local store, request them at the butcher's counter or alternatively, try a small, independent butcher's if you have one in your immediate area, where it may be possible to place an order for future collection.

Fresh ox cheek
Fresh ox cheek

Cook Time

Prep time: 30 min

Cook time: 3 hours 30 min

Ready in: 4 hours

Yields: 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 half pound ox cheeks
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 1 medium carrot, washed, topped and roughly chopped
  • ½ medium white onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 medium green chilli, topped and sliced
  • 1 medium red chilli, topped and sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • Half bottle full bodied red wine
  • 1 pint fresh beef stock
  • 1 large baking potato
  • 1 small celeriac bulb, about the same size as the potato
  • 1 ounce/¼ stick of butter for mash
  • White pepper
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley, plus extra to garnish

Instructions

Ox cheeks should be sealed all over in hot oil
Ox cheeks should be sealed all over in hot oil

Pour the oil in to a very large pot and bring it up to a medium to high heat. Season the ox cheeks with salt and pepper and brown on both sides and around the edges in the oil. Cooking tongs are best used for turning the cheeks. This entire process should only take a couple of minutes.

Browned and sealed ox cheek
Browned and sealed ox cheek

Remove the ox cheeks from the pot to a holding plate. It may at this stage be necessary to add a little bit more oil to the pot and allow it to come up again to a medium heat.

Ox cheek solid braising accompaniments
Ox cheek solid braising accompaniments

Add the onion, carrot, chillies, bay leaf and thyme to the pot. Stir around for a minute or so until the onion is just starting to soften.

Ox cheeks braising solution
Ox cheeks braising solution

Pour the wine and the stock in to the pot and stir well. Turn up the heat until the liquid just starts to simmer.

Ox cheeks are added to braising stock
Ox cheeks are added to braising stock

Use your cooking tongs to carefully lift the browned ox cheeks in to the pot. They should ideally be roughly three-quarters covered by the liquid at this stage but absolute precision in this particular respect is not really too important.

Cover the pot and simmer as gently as possible for three hours. The cheeks should be turned every half hour and the liquid level monitored. If absolutely necessary, a little boiling water may be added to the pot in the latter stages.

Chopped potato ready for boiling
Chopped potato ready for boiling

When the ox cheeks have been simmering for almost three hours, it is time to start preparing the mash. It would be possible to make purely celeriac mash but I believe that preparing fifty percent celeriac and fifty percent potato mash provides a far greater texture to the finished product and a more subtle flavour which is less likely to detract from the main meal component which is the ox cheek.

The potato will take about twice as long to cook as the much softer celeriac. Begin therefore by peeling the potato, chopping it to around one and a half inch chunks and adding it to a pot with plenty of cold, lightly salted water. Put the pot on to a high heat until the water starts to simmer, reduce the heat and continue to simmer for an initial ten minutes.

Peeling and chopping celeriac
Peeling and chopping celeriac

Celeriac is actually a lot softer than it looks and you may expect but it does have a much thicker skin than a potato so you may have to use a knife to peel it rather than any vegetable peeler you are in the habit of using. When it is peeled, chop it in to similar sized chunks to the potato.

Celeriac is added to the pot with the potato
Celeriac is added to the pot with the potato

When the potato has been simmering for ten minutes, carefully add the celeriac chunks and bring back to a simmer for a further five to ten minutes until all the chunks are just softened.

Put a plate in to your oven and put the oven on to preheat at its lowest setting for a few minutes.

Liquid is significantly reduced during the ox cheek braising process
Liquid is significantly reduced during the ox cheek braising process

By this time, most of the liquid should have evaporated from the pot and you will be left with a strong, reduced sauce. Don't worry if there doesn't seem a lot as you only need two or three tablespoons per person.

Braised ox cheek removed from pot
Braised ox cheek removed from pot

Carefully lift the ox cheeks from the pot with a slotted spoon to your heated plate. Cover the plate with tinfoil and return it to the low oven to keep the cheeks warm.

Straining braising stock to make gravy
Straining braising stock to make gravy

Suspend a fine sieve over a large bowl and line it with a couple of sheets of kitchen paper. Carefully pour in the braising stock and allow it to strain for a few minutes while you drain the potatoes and celeriac at your sink and allow them to steam off for a few minutes. Note that if you don't allow this steaming off process and the resultant escaping of excess moisture, you are likely to have soggy mash. You may need to gently assist the gravy straining process with the back of a wooden spoon but be sure not to tear the kitchen paper.

Put the strained liquid in to a small saucepan and gently bring back up to a simmer.

Potato and celeriac ready for mashing
Potato and celeriac ready for mashing

Add the butter and a little sprinkling of white pepper to the potato and celeriac. Mash with a hand masher until just smooth.

Chopped parsley is added to celeriac mash
Chopped parsley is added to celeriac mash

The parsley should be added to the celeriac mash and stirred through with a spoon. The reason why it is added only at this stage is that if it were added prior to mashing, a lot of it would simply become caught in the tines of the masher.

Celeriac mash bed for ox cheek
Celeriac mash bed for ox cheek

Divide the celeriac mash between two deep serving plates and flatten in to even beds for the ox cheeks.

Ox cheek laid on celeriac mash bed
Ox cheek laid on celeriac mash bed

Lift an ox cheek carefully on to each celeriac mash bed, remembering to wear oven protecting gloves as the holding plate will be very hot.

Gravy is spooned over braised ox cheek on celeriac mash
Gravy is spooned over braised ox cheek on celeriac mash

Spoon a little of the reheated, rich gravy over each ox cheek and garnish with the leftover chopped parsley.

Succulent and tender ox cheek oozing juices
Succulent and tender ox cheek oozing juices

Although the ox cheeks will externally have darkened almost to black, the inside will remain a much lighter colour more associated with beef and the flesh should separate in to thick strands almost at a touch to provide an easy and absolutely delicious eating experience.

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