Ox Cheek Pithivier

by Colin McGurran

Main Medium ​​​​​​​ 4 ​​​​​​​ Prep/Cook: 3 hours 30 minutes, plus 2 weeks for the choucroute


2 ox cheeks

1 pinch of fresh thyme, chopped

50g of salt

500ml of red wine

50g of celery, medium dice

50g of onion, medium dice

50g of carrots, medium dice

50g of leek, medium dice



1000g of white cabbage, finely sliced

50g of sea salt, fine

50g of carrots, grated

10ml of olive oil

10g of sugar



300g of shallots

50ml of onion oil

2g of sea salt, fine

1g of thyme

1 pinch of black pepper

20g of unsalted butter

12 small baby carrots

500g of baby spinach leaves

30g of butter


500g of puff pastry

1 egg yolk, for egg wash

8g of baby turnip, washed, leaves on

1 handful of baby spinach leaves


1. First make the choucroute. In a metal bucket, add a layer of cabbage and sprinkle with salt. Using a rolling pin, mash down until watery. Keep repeating this process until all the cabbage has been used

2. Leave the cabbage at room temperature for 14 days, then store in the fridge

3. For the ox cheeks, start by mixing together the salt and thyme in a bowl until well combined

4. Roll out the pastry to 4mm thickness and then leave to rest in the fridge for 45 minutes

5. To prepare the ox cheeks, remove the top layer of fat and sinew and rub in the thyme salt. Place the cheeks onto the plancha (flat grill), grind some pepper onto each side, and fry until a dark golden brown colour

6. Preheat the oven to 100°C/gas mark 1/4

7. In a large gastro tray or saucepan, lightly fry off the celery, carrot, onion and leek in oil until they begin to colour. Add the red wine and the ox cheeks. Boil until the alcohol cooks off and top up with enough water to cover the cheeks

8. Cook in the oven for 1 hour 30 minutes. After this time, increase the heat to 140°C/gas mark 1 and cook for a further 2 hours. Remove from the oven and leave on the side to cool for 1 hour. Remove the cheeks from the stock, wrap in cling film and store in the fridge

9. Strain the liquid from the pan through a fine strainer into a medium saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil and reduce by 3/4. Season to taste and set aside until ready to serve

10. Lay out the pastry sheet and cut out 8 circles of pastry, 5 inches in diameter each

11. For the roasted shallots, add the oil, salt and pepper to a pan. Half the shallots lengthways and place on top of the oil mix, cut-side down

12. Caramelise the shallots on a very high heat until golden brown, then add the butter and thyme, cover with a cartouche and cook until soft on a gentle heat. Remove from the heat and store in the fridge until required

13. For the carrots, peel and half lengthways. Blanch in salted boiling water until tender, approximately 3-4 minutes, the strain, refresh in iced water and set aside

14. Add the butter to a pan over a medium heat. Once foaming, add the baby spinach and cook for approximately 1 minute - until just wilted. Season with salt, remove from the pan and store on a tray lined generously with kitchen towel - this will absorb any excess water

15. Before constructing the pithiviers, remove the cheeks from the fridge and use your hands to break the meat down into small flakes chunks

16. Brush egg wash over 4 of the pastry bases. On each base, layer on the flaked ox cheek, the caramelised carrots, wilted spinach, some more ox cheek and the roasted shallots

17. Lay the remaining circles of pastry on top, then smooth down on top of the filling, taking care not to tear the pastry. Press the edges of the top circle onto the edges of the base to seal each pithivier

18. Brush the pithiviers all over with egg wash and leave in the fridge for 10 minutes

19. Remove from the fridge, take a knife and starting at the top in the centre, score half circles down the sides, being careful not to pierce all the way through the pastry

20. Where the edges meet, make a seal at the bottom and use a knife to score lines 1cm apart all the way around the base. Rest for a further 20 minutes in the fridge

21. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4

22. Remove the pithiviers from the fridge and bake in the oven for 20 minutes until golden brown

23. Meanwhile, measure out 100g of choucroute per person and squeeze out the excess liquid. Mix with the carrot, onion, olive oil, sugar and salt and pepper to taste

24. Before assembling the final dish, reheat the braise reduction in a small pan and set aside

25. Remove the pithiviers from the oven and place into the middle of each plate. Place a quenelle of the choucroute alongside followed by some baby spinach leaves and turnips. Drizzle over 2-3 tablespoons of the braise reduction and serve immediately