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Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 3 hours

Serves 4

Given enough notice, your butcher should be able to provide you with ox cheeks. If not, you can use featherbla­de, shin, or even oxtail. The art of braising and slow cooking – which is not simply putting a chunk of meat with some seasoning and herbs in the oven at a low temperatur­e – seems to be in danger of disappeari­ng, which is a shame because it’s a great skill to have and makes great use of cheaper cuts of meat.


– 1½ tbsp plain flour

– 4 x 220-250g pieces of ox cheek, shin, featherbla­de or oxtail

– vegetable oil, for


– 30g butter

– 1 small onion, finely


– 1 garlic clove, crushed

or grated

– 1 tsp tomato purée

– a few thyme sprigs

– 500ml Guinness or

other stout

– 1½ litres good-quality

beef stock

– 1 bay leaf

– cornflour, if needed,

for thickening


Lightly coat the meat with half a tablespoon of the flour and season all over. Heat a couple of tablespoon­s of vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan and fry the meat on a high heat until nicely browned all over. Set aside.

Heat the butter in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and gently fry the onion and garlic for a few minutes until softened. Add the rest of the flour, the tomato purée and the thyme sprigs, and stir over a low heat for a minute or so.

Meanwhile, boil the stout in a separate saucepan until it has reduced by two thirds, then slowly add this to the onion pan along with the stock, stirring constantly to avoid lumps forming.

Bring to a simmer and add the pieces of beef and the bay leaf. Cover with a lid and simmer gently for about 2-2½ hours, until the meat is tender (it is difficult to put an exact time on braised meats, sometimes an extra half an hour may be required, depending on the meat itself – the best way to check is by tasting it). You could use a pressure cooker instead, which would halve the cooking time.

Once the meat is cooked, the sauce should have thickened to a gravy-like consistenc­y; if not, dilute a little cornflour in some water, stir into the sauce and simmer for a few more minutes.

Serve with mash or roasted root vegetables.

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