I really like trying to use different and more unusual cuts of meat in my cooking. They often have amazing flavours and also usually have the bonus of being pretty cheap! For example making a Beef Bourginon with blade or beef shin, or lamb shoulder for this Moroccan Lamb. We recently picked up some glorious ox cheeks which are absolutely fantastic pieces of meat with such an intense flavour!
Instead of using them in a slow cooked stew this time we decided to try them out replacing mince in a twist on spaghetti bolognese and make a Ragu. As well as being a popular jarred sauce brand found in supermarkets, a Ragu is actually defined as a ‘meat-based sauce, which is commonly served with pasta’.
Whenever I make a bolognese or tomato sauce I always like to add a few bits and bobs from the store cupboard and this combination using the hendersons,balsamic and tabasco is my favourite, it adds just a slight heat and sweetness to the sauce which I love.
- ox cheeks – about 800-1000g
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 large onion
- 1 stalk celery
- 2 tbsp tomato pureé
- 1 400-500g tin chopped/crushed tomatoes
- 200ml red wine
- 1 tbsp chopped capers
- 2 tbsp hendersons relish/worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp apple balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp tabasco
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- salt & black pepper to taste
- water ( to loosen sauce if too thick)
- parmesan cheese (to sprinkle)
- 150-200g dried spaghetti cooked to packet instructions
- olive oil for frying
- In the morning, set up the ox cheeks in your slow cooker – simply seal them for about one min each side in a hot pan with a touch of oil then place in the slow cooker with about 0.5cm water. Set on low for 6 hours.
After the six hours, prepare your sauce. In a large pan heat 2 tbsp oil. Finely chop the onion, celery and garlic and add to the pan. Soften for about 3-4 minutes on a medium heat until just starting to turn golden.
Add the fresh thyme, capers and then the red wine and reduce for about 5 minutes.
Add the tomato purée and mix thoroughly, then add the tomatoes, henderson, tabasco and balsamic, mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
While the sauce is simmering, drain the ox cheeks (the slow cooking will have created a lot of fat) and then return to the slow cooker. Add the sauce and a ladle full of water then set on low for another hour. After this hour coarsely shred the ox cheeks and stir into the sauce.
- Serve on top of the pasta and sprinkle generously with parmesan cheese!
Happy Eating 🙂
Happy eating 🙂
If you fancy some more slow cooker meat how about this Steak and Chorizo Ragu from How to Cook Good Food!