Sunday, 29 January 2012

Ox Cheek Ragu

Firstly, don't tell Mum that I just gave her ox cheek. Despite, Dad's queries as to what meat it was, as far as she knows, it's just "beef".

Even when I posted a picture of the ox cheeks on Instagram, a few of you were "unsure" about it. But trust me, if you try it you'll love it. Just like the boyfriend did.

Secondly, if you're going to want to make this, give yourself plenty of time. About 8 hours should do it.

As cows tend to spend their time eating, sleeping, eating, chasing people, and eating, the cheek meat is really tough. Not good for fast cooking, but excellent for slow cooking.

I wasn't planning on posting this recipe, it's by special request. So, quantities and times are a bit approximate.

Also, the star anise is optional... I suppose. I understand not everyone likes it. But, it gives quite a bit of flavour to the dish and enhances the beefiness.

Ox Cheek Ragu

Serves 4-6

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely sliced
3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
1 carrot, finely sliced
3 ox cheeks, cut into thick chunks
1 tbsp plain flour
2 tsp dried rosemary
2 tsp dried thyme
1 star anise
2 400ml tins of chopped tomatoes, plus about 1/2 a tin of water
1 tsp umami paste, optional
Spaghetti, cooked

Preheat the oven Gas 3 (170°C/325°F)

In an oven proof pan, gently fry the onion, garlic, and carrot in the oil for 5 minutes then add the ox cheek, herbs, and star anise. Throw in the flour and give it all a good stir and cook out the flour for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes then, using one of the tins, add some water to just cover it all. Bring to a simmer and place in the oven. Cook for around 8 hours.

Remove the pan from the even and, using the back of a wooden spoon (or similar), gently break up the meat. The meat should break up really easily. If it doesn't it goes back into the oven. If it is done, stir in the umami paste and add the cooked spaghetti. Again, give it all a good mix, so that every string of spaghetti is coated in the sauce. Serve.


  1. I do love a bit of cheek! I've cooked pig's cheeks before but never ox. Will definitely be giving this one a try.

  2. Pig cheeks are nice, too. But, they're seem to have gotten really expensive.

  3. love a slow-cooked ragu. and i like the star anise. I won't want to leave it out. I made ragu couple of months ago with venison and it was with the typical asian braising spices including star anise and i thought that gave the dish its key special flavour! do want to try cheeks soon, I know they're delicious for a cheap off-cut, but gahh what with everyone getting into cheeks these days, they're fast rising in popularity and price ):

  4. What cut of venison did you use?

    Cheeks are getting expensive. At my local butchers they have rocketed in price.

  5. I was wondering if you would like to put up a link to this beef recipe in my Food on Friday Series.