This hearty classic French dish requires little effort and makes the most of flavourful but less tender cuts of beef. You will need a good quality heavy-based flameproof casserole dish for this recipe. This dish is even better made 1 day in advance. It works equally well with a chicken, cut into eight pieces.
2.2 kg ox cheek, shin or blade, cut into 7 cm pieces (see Chef's note 1)
60 g plain flour
4 pinches sea salt
2 pinches freshly ground black pepper
60 ml vegetable oil
200 ml red wine, heated, reduced to 50 ml (see Chef's note 2)
For the marinade
2 cups (500 ml) water or brown chicken stock
200 g carrots, cut into 2 cm-thick slices
1 celery stalk, peeled, cut into 1 cm-thick slices
1 medium onion, peeled, cut through root into 8 wedges
9 garlic cloves, whole, peeled
2 g black peppercorns, crushed
1 bouquet garni (3 parsley stalks, 4 bay leaves and 6 thyme sprigs tied together)
750 ml full-bodied red wine, such as shiraz or cabernet sauvignon, heated, reduced to 500 ml, cooled (see Chef's note 2)
For the garnish
15 g unsalted butter
200 g smoked streaky bacon, diced, blanched
400 g button mushrooms, trimmed
1 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Marinating time: 24 hours
Standing time: 1 hour
To make marinade, combine all ingredients except reduced wine in a large bowl. Add ox cheek, then pour over the 500 ml cooled reduced wine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours, to marinate.
Place a colander over a large bowl and pour in beef mixture. Stand for at least 1 hour, to drain. Separate beef, vegetables and herbs, and pat dry with paper towel. Reserve liquid.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Sprinkle flour over a baking tray and cook in oven for 8-10 minutes, until pale brown. Set aside. Reduce oven to 120°C.
Season beef with sea salt and pepper. Heat vegetable oil in a large, heavy-based flameproof casserole dish on high. Cook ox cheek for 4 minutes each side, until coloured. Using a slotted spoon, transfer ox cheek to a tray.
Reduce heat to medium. Add drained vegetables and herbs and cook for 5 minutes, until lightly coloured. Spoon out any fat in casserole dish. Add toasted flour, then stir in reserved marinade and simmer until sauce is thick and coats back of a spoon. Add beef pieces, bring to boil and skim surface (see Chef's note 3). Cover with a lid, transfer to oven and cook for 4½ hours (see Chef's note 4). Add the 50 mls of reduced wine.
To make garnish, heat butter in a medium non-stick frying pan on high. Add bacon and cook for 1 min. Add mushrooms and cook for a further 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir bacon and mushrooms into casserole. Scatter with parsley and croutons, and serve hot.
1. Once you have trimmed and cut the ox cheek, shin or blade, you will have 1.5 kg of meat.
2. The wine in this dish adds a desirable acidity and richness, but the flavour of raw alcohol would be unpleasant, so it is important to boil the wine both for intensity and to remove the alcohol.
3. Bringing the liquid to the boil releases impurities in the meat, which coagulate on the surface and can then be removed by skimming.
4. When cooking the casserole in the oven, the stock must not boil as it will become very cloudy, the meat will shrink and become tough, the vegetables would disintegrate.