Ox cheek & ale stew


On a recent trip to Twickenham to have lunch with a dear friend, I discovered that the awesome Laverstoke Park Farm guys have a shop! They’ve got a huge meat counter full of organic delights, tons of fresh veg, a massive fridge stocking their pork pies, quiches and beer as well as a deli counter offering lunchtime fare and freshly ground coffee. It was as if I’d literally died and gone to food heaven. I was in my element, but had to be restraint as I was carrying my eight month old in a sling and couldn’t fit too much more in the nappy bag. I feel I chose wisely however, and bought ox cheeks and beers to make this sumptuous slow cooked stew for our Sunday lunch.

1kg ox cheeks – diced into large chunks
1 leek – washed & chopped chunky
2 red onions – peeled & chopped chunky
500g carrots – peeled & chopped chunky
100g mushrooms – peeled & quartered
100g curly kale – washed & sliced
Bottle of ale
500ml stock
Large knob of butter (I used goats, you could use cows or olive oil)

– preheat the oven to 160C/320F

– melt the butter over a med high heat in a large saucepan and cook the leek and onion for a few mins. Stir constantly to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom

– add the mushrooms and cook for another few mins with the lid on

– while that is happening lay the carrots at the bottom of a sturdy casserole pot, and arrange the ox cheeks on top

– tip the leek, onion, mushrooms and pan juices over the top of the meat then pour over the ale and stock

– cook with the lid on for two hours, then reduce the heat to 150C/300F and cook for a further two hours

– at this point stir in the kale and cook for one more hour. The meat will melt in the mouth after all this oven time and the kale will take on the flavour of the stew. You’ll be left with an extraordinary rich almost gamey flavour. I know ox cheek can be a bit difficult to come by, but the taste is so worth it and they’re one of the cheapest cuts of beef you can buy. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

– I served this stew with cauliflower & sprout mash and got happy faces all round


Steak & kidney stew

Always eager to reinvent a classic recipe, I’ve taken the basics of a steak & kidney pie and turned it into a stew. Slow cooking for hours leaves the meat melt in the mouth tender, and gives the kidneys an almost smokey flavour. It was quite something and I’ll definitely be experimenting more with offal in the future.

Ingredients (for 6-8 servings):
1.5kg beef shin or good quality stewing steak (cut into large cubes)
6 lambs kidneys (halved)
1l bitter or ale
500g carrots (top, tailed, peeled & chopped chunky)
200g mushrooms (peeled & quartered)
3 onions (peeled & quartered)
6 cloves of garlic (peeled, left whole)
2 inch piece of fresh ginger (peeled & grated)
Salt & pepper

– preheat your oven to 160 degrees

– put the carrots, onions and garlic in the bottom of a large casserole dish

– place half the meat on top, season with salt and pepper, sprinkle over half the ginger and put the kidneys on top

– put the rest of the meat on top, then season again and sprinkle over the rest of the ginger

– slowly pour over the bitter or ale, put the lid on the pot and cook in the oven for four hours

– at this point take the stew out of the oven and remove the lid. Give it a good stir and put back in the oven. Cook for a further one to two hours with the lid off until the liquid has reduced down to a lusciously thick gravy

– serve with cauliflower mash and green veggies

*photo to follow next time I make this*