"It's not much but it's ours"

Sunday, April 05, 2009


Twenty years ago, when I moved into my first flat, with my future wife, my mother gave me a gift. It was a rather bulky, brown slow cooker and, to be honest, it soon began to gather dust at the back of a kitchen cabinet.

Move on a few years and, newly single, a bit strapped for cash and in a job that involved long and slightly odd hours, I rediscovered said cooker and began to acquaint myself with the joys of slow cooking. Taking cheap cuts of meat and a few vegetables and leaving them to simmer so they released all their flavours and made sure my return home was greeted with a waft of welcoming, savoury steam.

Move on even more years and I still have the same slow cooker. It still sits in a kitchen cabinet and is still in perfect working order. Every now and again, it makes an appearance and last week, prompted by the sight of large chunks of Ox tail in Waitrose, I decided to give cooking of the slow kind another whirl.

They did not have enough Oxtail to satisfy typical DH supper requirements, so I was delighted when the woman behind the counter produced a couple of large Ox cheeks and asked me if I wanted to take those too.

Well, of course I did. Ox cheek is making an appearance on menus all over the country and, at £2.50 for two huge slabs of beef, it is no wonder. But, given the grain of the meat and the amount of sinew there is only one way to bring out the incredible flavour. Long, slow cooking.

I threw an onion, a few carrots and some garlic in my basket along with a bottle of the splendid Meantime Porter to help matters along and scurried back home to spend the next few hours prepping supper.

Using a trick I picked up from Warrick Dodds in Lancashire, I sweated the carrots and onions off with a little sugar to help bring out their sweetness and added them to the cooker with the meat, which had been tossed in seasoned flour and browned in butter.

Finally, half a bottle of beer, a bunch of rosemary, a little bit of thyme, lots of salt and pepper and a few strips of lemon peel and that was it for the next few hours as the flat began to fill with the most incredible smell as the slow cookng worked its magic. I resisted taking a peek until, five hours later, it was time to skim off the fat and thicken the sauce slightly with a mix of butter and flour.

And, the end result?

Well, even if I say so myself, it is one of the best stews I have ever put my name to. The ox cheek was, as my doppelganger Mr G Wallace might say “deep and savoury” and the ox tail gave up chunks of deliciously fatty meat. And all that, enough to feed four hungry prople,or DH, for less than £7

What can I say, but that I think it is time for all of you to get your cheek on.

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Anonymous Ben said...

As luck would have it I picked up a couple of cheeks at Ginger Pig on Saturday. A bit more than £2.50 but still a bargain. Slow cooking tonight...

Monday, April 06, 2009 10:54:00 am  
Anonymous Krista said...

Maybe not your style, but I met an American gal last year who spent a year doing nothing but crockpotting. (As we call it.)I found it oddly fascinating. And hey, I think she got a book deal out of it...

Monday, April 06, 2009 6:23:00 pm  
Anonymous B.Hays said...

OX cheeks?They have jowls possibly,but cheeks?

Plse don't say Wallace guy from Masterchef is yr alter ego,he is awful,and you are a food Jedi!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009 1:50:00 pm  
Blogger meemalee said...

Great minds think alike - I just made braised ox cheeks too :)

It's gorgeous stuff and being dirt cheap doesn't hurt either ...

Tuesday, April 07, 2009 9:17:00 pm  
Blogger keefab said...

Couldn't agree more with the cheap cuts phenomenon.

I buy shins of veal from Graham's the chop in East Finchley (cnr of East End Rd & Ossulton). They're not as cheap as you might expect but a long slow cook makes them sooooo sweet.

I'd like to share this with you:

Trying to get my hands on some testicles (from a lamb, not a man). Now there's a soft delight...

Thursday, April 09, 2009 1:12:00 pm  
Blogger lewis said...

That's not beer you've got there it's Meantime Porter. Did you get it in London as I can't find it in any shops?

Looks like a great meal. I love slow cooked meat and cheap cuts are the best. It's a bit of a disservice calling them cheap actually.

Friday, April 10, 2009 2:22:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...


I bought my bottle in the Waitrose by The Barbican

The trouble with the "cheap" cuts is that now theyn are becoming fashionable they are being hiked up in price. I bought some lamb breast yesterday, exactly double what I paid last year


Friday, April 10, 2009 2:55:00 pm  
Blogger the moffer said...

It's Warrick Dodds, not Warwick Dodds.
Sorry, I hate people who comment only to correct spellings/be twats but it's been bugging me

Saturday, April 11, 2009 12:09:00 am  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...

don't apologise, my mistake


Saturday, April 11, 2009 12:31:00 am  
Blogger keefab said...

Concur with the breast statement- can't believe how much its price has moved in the last 12 months- I blame Saturday Kitchen- however, I am very glad that 'cheap cuts' are being publicised.

Anything to do away with the assumption that "Meat is a right"- let them eat brisket...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009 12:49:00 am  

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