Ox Cheek, Porter & Onion Cottage Pie

by Adam Byatt

Main Medium ​​​​​​​ 4 ​​​​​​​ Prep/Cook: 4 hours 50 minutes

INGREDIENTS

COTTAGE PIE FILLING
1.5kg ox cheek, dry aged

3 carrots, peeled

1/2 leek, trimmed

1/2 bunch of thyme

3 onions, peeled and thinly sliced

2 star anise

5g of peppercorns

3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved

250ml of porter

1.5l chicken stock

2 centre-cut beef marrow bones, 10cm long and cleaned of any sinew

vegetable oil

salt

black pepper

MASHED POTATO
2 Désirée potatoes

40g of butter

100ml of milk

sea salt

black pepper, freshly ground

TO SERVE
1/2 bunch of rosemary

METHOD

1. To begin, cut the ox cheeks into four large pieces and remove any sinew

2. Chop 1 of the carrots and the trimmed leek into a rough dice. Pick the leaves from half of the thyme, leaving the remaining sprigs whole. Set aside

3. Add a drizzle of vegetable oil to a saucepan over a medium heat and add the onions. Fry gently without any seasoning as you want the onions to caramelise completely – this will take up to 20 minutes. Once ready, set aside until ready to assemble the pie

4. Thinly slice the 2 remaining carrots. Add a dash of vegetable oil to a large pan and place over a high heat. Add the carrots, season with salt (to prevent the carrots from colouring too quickly) and add the star anise to the pan

5. Cook for 2 minutes, then turn the heat down to medium and continue cooking for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly, until the carrots just start to soften

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

7. Scatter a layer of rock salt onto the base of a baking dish or tray and place the potatoes on top. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes

8. While the potatoes are cooking, add the butter and milk to a pan and bring just to the boil. Once the potatoes are cooked, slice in half, scoop out the flesh into a bowl and mash until smooth. Alternatively, pass through a mouli or potato ricer

9. Beat the hot butter and milk mix into the potato, then season to taste. Scoop the mash into a piping bag and set aside at room temperature until ready to use

10. Add a splash of vegetable oil to a large, flame-proof casserole dish and place over a medium heat until very hot. Lightly season the ox cheeks with salt and pepper, place in the pan and colour lightly all over. Remove from the dish and set aside on a wire rack placed over a tray

11. Return the dish to a medium heat and add the roughly chopped carrot and leek from step 2. Stir in the peppercorns, garlic and thyme sprigs and cook for 5 minutes, until golden

12. Pour the porter into the dish and allow to reduce by three quarters. Return the ox cheek pieces to the pan with any juices that have gathered in the resting tray, cover with the stock and bring to a simmer

13. As it simmers, skim away any impurities that gather on the surface of the liquid with a spoon. Place a cartouche (parchment paper circle) on the surface of the liquid and place in the oven for 3 hours, until the meat is meltingly tender

14. Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow the meat to cool in the dish. Remove the meat from the dish, set aside, then pass the cooking liquid through a fine sieve. Add the liquid to a clean pan and reduce by half, skimming off any impurities as it simmers

15. Using your fingers, shred the meat into long strips and combine the meat with the reduced cooking liquid and the reserved thyme leaves. Divide the ox cheek between 2 oven-proof serving dishes. Add a layer of caramelised onions, followed by the carrots (minus the star anise). As you build the layers, leave some room in the centre. Once built, push the bone marrow vertically into the centre of each dish

16. Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7

17. Pipe the mash around the bone marrow, covering the filling. Push some rosemary sprigs into the bone marrow

18. Place in the oven for 12 minutes until the mash is golden. Remove from the oven, and for extra flare, set fire to the rosemary to serve