Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Melt. Slurp. Sigh... This is trattoria food at its most drool-worthy. The ox cheek turns from tough to tender over 6 hours and reduces down into a sauce so succulent you'll want to write a novel about it. 

This recipe - a new favourite - is ideal for feeding lots of people on the cheap - 500g of cheek cost me a fiver and was enough for 4 friends with giant appetites. It takes a while to cook - slow and low - but the only physical strain is putting it in the oven, taking it out and sharing it around. 


serves 4


1 tbsp olive oil
500g ox cheek

1 large white onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 sticks celery, finely sliced
1 large red chilli, finely chopped
250ml water
300ml beer (I used smoked beer. Wine will work well too)
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper

400g papparadelle
Parmesan, grated, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180C. 

Heat the oil in a large, heavy based casserole and brown the cheeks all over. When brown and crisp, set aside. 

Add the onion to the oil and soften, following with the garlic, celery and chilli. Place the cheeks back in the pan and pour in the liquids. Add the chopped tomatoes, bay and thyme and season well. 

Lay a sheet of baking paper over the pan and cover with a lid so that the moisture is locked in.

Place the pan in the oven and leave for at least 4 hours to simmer away and slow-cook the meat. It will look like stew at this point but the meat will fall apart at the lightest touch.

Take the pan from the oven and remove the lid and baking paper. Leave the pan uncovered over a medium heat for approx. 20 minutes to reduce the excess liquid.

Just before serving, cook the pasta. Add sauce to the pasta and mix through. Serve piping hot with a generous helping of Parmesan.


  1. This looks wonderful Rose! All the best sauces take a minimum of 6 hours to let the flavours settle and develop. I did a 12 hour lamb leg ragu once - it was in so long my oven turned itself off!

    Lovely. x

  2. This looks and sounds fabulous. I love food that can be left to bubble away to itself. You can spend your time doing something else knowing that dinner is sorted. I'm off to the butchers!

  3. Thank you both. It really is scrumptious. Reminds me of long afternoons at my favourite gingham tablecloth-ed restaurant just outside the city centre of Bologna. Red wine and an empty stomach essential. (p.s Waitrose do them...)

  4. Tried this with ingredients to hand - no cheek! Orange flavoured fusion beer (undrinkable in its normal state) and braising steak make very delicious substitutes. The essential red wine and empty stomach were also at the ready! Yum xx

  5. Happy to 'test' that for you when home next x

  6. It was awesome.
    We are here to help everyone in getting access to good organic products online, plus doing our bit in sustaining a healthy planet.

  7. Wow is all I can say. Am addicted to ox cheek now.

  8. Did you try it Basel? I had something similiar last night - you just can't beat it.