Ox cheek ragout with porcini mushrooms

I love oxtail stew but it is a bit of a faff getting all the meat off the bones. Ox cheek, delivers all the flavour of oxtail without the faff! Long, slow braising is the secret to getting the meat tender and the prep is easy. So, once you’ve got it in the oven, you can get on with something else while it fills your kitchen with the most fragrant aroma. The finished ragout is quite rich so, for two of us, I served  half spooned over some crushed buttered Charlotte potatoes with a green side vegetable and saved the other half to stir through some pasta topped with sautéed mushrooms and Parmesan shavings. 

ox cheek stew

Serves four 

  • 500g/2 ox cheeks
  • 2tbsp rapeseed oil, 1 generous knob of butter
  • 70ml red wine
  • 1tbsp plain flour
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
  • 25g dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in hot water for an hour
  • 150ml rich beef stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • Salt and black pepper

To make…

  • Preheat the oven to 140°C.
  • Melt the butter and oil in a cast iron casserole dish on the hob. Medium heat.
  • Add the chopped onions and celery and cook for about 10 minutes until soft and lightly golden. Stir in the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes.
  • Carefully remove the porcini from the soaking water and chop them very finely. Strain the soaking water to remove any pieces of grit and reserve – there’s lots of flavour in this liquid. 
  • Sprinkle over the flour, stir and allow to cook out for a few minutes.
  • Add the whole beef cheeks, stock, red wine, porcini juices, chopped porcini, bay leaf, thyme, a tsp of salt and black pepper.
  • Stir thoroughly and bring to a simmer, cover and cook in the oven for 4 hours.
  • Remove the beef cheeks and place on a chopping board or a plate. Shred the meat with a couple of forks and add it back to the stewing juices. Adjust the seasoning if needed. The sauce should be rich and fragrant and the meat tender. 
  • Return it to the oven, turn off the heat and leave it in the casserole until you want to serve it. 

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Gruyère, bacon and turnip gratin

I got this beautiful Mauviel stainless steel gratin dish for Christmas (I’d coveted it on James Martin’s Saturday Morning Kitchen show) and I’ve been itching to try it out since. I’m always on the look-out for interesting recipes that I can serve as a carb-substitute and this turnip gratin with bacon and Gruyère cheese really is sublime. I’ve tried gratins with celeriac or  cauliflower before and loved them but these thinly sliced white turnips cooked in this way were a revelation. Serve it with a dark green vegetable like purple sprouting broccoli to contrast the richness of the gratin and slices of roast chicken, lamb or beef. Once tried, I’m sure it will become a firm favourite. 

  • 80g chopped pancetta or smoked bacon lardons
  • 2 medium-sized white turnips
  • 150ml milk
  • 150ml double cream
  • White pepper and salt
  • 20g Parmesan, grated
  • 20g Gruyère, grated

To make…

  • Fry the bacon or pancetta until crisp – you probably won’t need to add extra oil. Set aside.
  • Slice the turnip very thinly with a mandolin or a very sharp knife.
  • Place the turnips in a saucepan with the milk, cream and a generous pinch of salt and ground white pepper. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 4 minutes.
  • Grease the gratin dish with butter.
  • Lift half the slices out carefully with a slotted spoon and spread them evenly over the bottom of the gratin dish.
  • Scatter the fried bacon or pancetta over the turnips.
  • Add the next layer of turnips and the milk and cream mixture.
  • Scatter both cheeses over the top.
  • Oven bake at 180° for 25 to 30 minutes until golden and bubbling.

Share, follow, like, enjoy!

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  • Follow me on Twitter @pigeoncottage,  on Instagram at Pigeon Cottage Kitchen, and the Pigeon Cottage Kitchen page on Facebook.
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Chicken risotto with mushrooms and bacon

I very rarely eat rice these days as it’s pretty high in carbs. So, when I do, I want it to be something really delicious and this really is! I usually make it when I’ve roasted a chicken for another meal and then use any leftover breast meat and stock made from the carcass – the better the stock, the better the risotto! As long as you prep everything you need before you start, you should have this on the table in roughly half an hour. Enjoy!

chicken risotto

Serves 2

  • 150g risotto rice
  • 1 litre of light chicken stock
  • 100g chopped cooked leftover chicken
  • 70g butter
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed into a paste
  • 2 finely chopped shallots
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 70ml Noilly Prat for preference or dry white wine
  • Maldon sea salt and pepper
  • 60g grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped chives 
  • 3 slices of streaky bacon
  • 8 chestnut mushrooms
  • a handful of chopped fresh parsley or chives
  • Salt and pepper

To make…

  • Risotto needs to be cooked quickly so prep all the risotto ingredients first and all will run smoothly i.e. chop the shallots and celery, slice the mushrooms and bacon, chop the herbs, heat the stock, grate the cheese etc. 
  • Fry the bacon in its own fat. Set aside. Fry the mushrooms in the bacon fat. Set aside with the bacon. 
  • Melt half the butter in a sauté pan and lightly colour the shallots and celery. Add the rice, stir and coat in the butter. Add the garlic, Noilly Prat or wine, ladle over enough hot stock to cover. Stir and leave it to cook for a few minutes. Keep adding the stock and stir the risotto until the rice goes creamy and is slightly al dente. This should take about 20 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the Parmesan. Add a little more stock if it looks stodgy and adjust for seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the cooked chicken. 
  • To serve, spoon the risotto onto warm plates and top with the bacon, mushrooms and herbs. 

Share, follow, like, enjoy!

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