I’ll cut straight to the point with this one. If you’ve Googled “Sous Vide Ox Cheek”, the numbers you’re interested in are: 75c for 20 hours. If you’re interested in the rest of this dish – here are the details:
Ox Cheeks – cheap, full of flavour and incredible in texture if you cook them right. I’d read a few different cooking times for Sous Vide Ox Cheek with the trend seeming to be for a higher temperature and shorter cooking time. This seems a little odd to me – Ox Cheeks are certainly a prime slow-cook cut so why not give them time to give way to that luscious, melt-in-the-mouth texture slowly? Not that I’ve tried cooking them harder and faster but I can confirm 100% – 75c for 20 hours will get you where you want to be – perfectly cooked beef cheeks.
Clean up the cheeks removing any silvery membrane and sinewy pieces from the surface. Now give them a sear in some moderately hot oil – just to develop a little colour on the surface. Normally with Sous Vide cooking you’d want to sear the meat after the water bath treatment but these cheeks are going to come out so ready to melt, you don’t want to be bashing them about too much at the end of cooking.
Bag them up with a sprig of thyme and stick them in a Sous Vide water bath (I use a SousVide Supreme) for 20 hours at 75c.
I then made a sauce to finish the cheeks in:
- A basic mirepoix (finely chopped carrot, onion and celery)
- 2 bay leaves
- half a bottle of stout
- 1.5 pints beef stock
- 20 or so whole black pepper corns.
Sweat the veg for 20 minutes in oil then add the stout to reduce for a few minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer gently for 2 hours – your stock should help it thicken but if it doesn’t add a little flour mixed with water.
Pass through a sieve and return to the heat.
When the cheeks are done, make sure you empty the juices that will have formed in the cooking pouches into the sauce.
Cut the cheeks into halves – maybe thirds depending on how many you’re feeding or how you want to plate your food. Now place the cheeks into the sauce and heat, very, very gently for 15 minutes or so – just to let the sauce/stock and the cheeks get to know each other.
Check the seasoning and you’re done.
Serve with some mash and you’ve got an incredible plate of food. If you fancy taking it a little further you can cook carrots Sous Vide at 85c for 45 minutes or so with some butter and a little sugar.
I also served this with savoy cabbage heated through in a pan with a little olive oil just until it starts to brown – you then add a splash of water (half a cup) to relax things a little and then some grated orange peel and even the flesh of an orange wont do any harm. Orange and cabbage works well – orange and beef work incredibly well.
Another variation is to replace the stout with Pedro Ximenez sherry and you’ve taken the dish in a completely different, but still utterly wonderful, direction.