Braised Ox Cheeks – A Winter Stew

I’m not going to lie to you, a raw ox cheek does not scream eat me. When Nicola (my local butcher from Red Bank Farm) heaved an immense globule of fatty, car tyre from its display lair, I was tempted to suggest she lever it back into place. I’ve had pigs cheeks before, they were dainty ‘ovalettes’ of tender, meaty goodness, a stark contract to the wad of flesh that an ox chews it’s cud against. However, a strange curiosity made me keep up with the scheme and so a Sunday tea of ‘braised ox cheek’ was born.

The ox cheek before and after the marinating
The ox cheek before and after the marinating
A recipe was found courtesy of James Ramsden, foodie writer. I skirt through his method with my added pics and words. Hopefully they merely embellish an already glorious wordage. As many meat lovers may already know, fatty when slow cooked for a long time becomes spectacularly gelatinous, and (in James’s words) extraordinarily handsome. I do urge you to do this. The results are extraordinary. Ox cheek is wonderfully flavoursome, perfect for a winters eve. About 15 minutes prep is all that’s needed. The oven does the rest.

It can be done a day or two ahead if you like – the flavour will only improve – I served with greens and mustard mashed potato.

Browning, adding the veg and then shredding after the oven
Browning, adding the veg and then shredding after the oven
Braised Ox Cheeks
Serves 4-6




For the marinade


2 ox cheeks, 1.5-2kg
Half a bottle of red wine
A bay leaf
A few peppercorns
A garlic clove, squished
A dried red chilli


For the braise


50g butter
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 stick of celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
300ml beef or chicken stock
1 tbsp tomato puree
Salt and pepper




Put the ox cheeks in a bowl with the other marinade ingredients and add a good pinch of salt. Leave for as long as you can – ideally in the fridge for a few days, (I left mine in the garage overnight!), but an hour is better than nothing


Preheat the oven to 160C. Remove cheeks from marinade and pat thoroughly dry. Heat a drop of oil (if using olive don’t use your best) in a frying pan over a strong flame and brown the cheeks thoroughly, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. Transfer to a large saucepan. I ended up using my beloved ‘Le Crueset’ roasting tin.


Lower the heat in the frying pan. Add the butter and melt, then add the vegetables and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Soften for a few minutes then add to the pan with the ox cheeks.


Tip the marinade into the frying pan along with the stock and bring to a simmer, scraping any sticky bits off the pan. Tip this into the saucepan, cover, and transfer to the oven. Cook for 3-4 hours until tender.
Remove the cheeks from the braising liquor and rest in a bowl. Put the saucepan over a generous heat, add the tomato puree, and simmer to reduce by about a half.

Meanwhile shred the cheeks with a couple of forks. Return to the pan and stir through the reduced broth. Keep warm until ready to serve, or cool and refrigerate until whenever. I promise it will be spectacular!

The final result, rich and uncious
The final result, rich and uncious
Recipe by James Ramsden  @jteramsden


Ox cheeks by Red Bank Farm
Red Bank Farm Shop, Winwick Road,
Newton Le Willows, Warrington, WA12 8DU
Tel: 07824 369174

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