Beat the January blues with a big dish of warming comfort food. This casserole uses ox cheek which is delicious slow cooked, it can be brought from your local butchers and some branches of Waitrose.
- 1kg (2¼lb) ox cheek (usually 3 cheeks) or 1 whole piece of chuck or braising steak
- 1 rounded tablespoon plain flour
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 red onions, peeled and cut into quarters or if large, 6 wedges
- 500g (1lb) large Chantenay carrots, trimmed and washed, halved lengthways if fat
- 100g (3½oz) bacon lardons or 4 streaky bacon rashers
- 200ml (7fl oz) red wine — a good, full-bodied one
- About 600ml (1 pint) hot beef stock
- 1 bay leaf
- A few sprigs of thyme
Set the oven to Gas Mark 2 or 150°C. Trim any fat (but not the white bits) from the ox cheeks or braising steak. Mix the flour and some seasoning on a plate. Use to coat the meat. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a frying pan over a high heat. Add the meat and brown it for a few mins on both sides.
Put the meat in a casserole dish. Add the onion wedges, carrots and bacon to the pan with more oil and cook for about 5-8 mins until browning.
Pour in the wine and then the stock. Add the bay leaf and sprigs of thyme. Put the lid on the casserole and cook for 4-5 hours, to make sure the meat is really tender. Check on it occasionally.
Serve this casserole with mash mixed with leeks or watercress, if you like.