Take a portion of fibrous meat, marinade it and slow cook it with stock. The result is an intensified flavour with meat that melts in the mouth. The jus is intensely flavoursome. Slow cooking has enjoyed somewhat of a revival…and for every reason. My friend Steve from the Brookfield Farm butchery in Aston offered me some ox cheeks. I grabbed them off him. They are perfectly sized and keep their integrity during the slow cook process. This dish is very much a main course and should be enjoyed with a spicy red wine. New World Shiraz, Merlot, Ganache or earthy St Julien will compliment it. This is a recipe for four people. Modify the amounts as necessary if you’re catering for more or fewer people.
For the ox cheeks
4 ox cheeks
5 tbs olive oil
1 veal knuckle sawn into 2 inch (5 cm) slices
1/2 cup (125 mls) water
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
2 turnips, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
10 black peppercorns
1/2 cup (125 mls) port
1 cup (250 mls) red wine
4 cups (1 L) beef or veal stock
In a large casserole pan, sauté the ox cheeks in the olive oil until they are browned. Transfer them using a slotted spoon to a warm plate. Add the veal knuckle slices to the pan and brown them on both sides. Remove the bones and transfer them to a warmed plate. Deglaze the pan with the water. Continue heating until the pan begins to sizzle then add the vegetables and peppercorns. Stir the contents of the pan until the vegetables become caramelised. Deglaze the pan for a second time with the port. Reduce the port by a half then add the wine. reduce the contents of the pan by one third. Transfer the ox cheeks, knuckle bones and contents of the pan to a slow cooker and cook for 4 to 6 hours.
For the parsnip crisps
These can be made ahead of time. Peel a medium parsnip and using a mandolin, make thin slices (taking great care not to cut yourself). Season the slices with salt. Sauté the slices in a mixture of 2 tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp sugar. Once browned, transfer them to a toast rack to cool down. Try to keep them apart from each other as they cool.
For the wilted kale
Just prior to plating the dish, sauté two handfuls of kale in butter until it softens but does not brown.
For the vegetable garnish
Prepare shallot hearts and baby chantenay carrots by peeling and cutting. Sauté them in butter until just softened.
For the sauté pear
Peel, core and slice the pear and sauté in hot butter until browned on each side.
For the foie gras
Prepare the foie gras by separating the lobes, removing any membranes and deveining the centre. Using a knife that has been warmed with hot water, cut the foie gras into 1 inch transverse slices. Gently cross hatch the surfaces of the slices. Place 2 tbsp unsalted butter in a metal skillet and heat under a moderate flame/heating level. As the butter begins to sizzle, gently add the foie gras slices and sauté each side until they are golden brown.
For the Port and red wine reduction
Carefully transfer the cooked ox cheeks to warmed plates. Strain off the liquid in the slow cooker into a pan and reduce. Be vigilant here as the correct reduction point suddenly happens. The jus is ready when it develops a sticky consistency.
Plating the dish
Spoon out some jus centrally on the plate. Add a layer of wilted kale, then pear slices then add the ox cheeks. Top the dish with foie gras a sprinkle with sea salt. Add the garnishing vegetables on islands of the jus. Garnish the dish with a parsnip crisp and parsley.