Ox cheek pithivier

  • medium
  • 4
  • 7 hours 30 minutes plus 14 days' fermentation
Not yet rated

Braised ox cheek is encased in pastry in this stunning pithivier recipe from Colin McGurran. Homemade choucroute, which needs to ferment for 14 days before serving, cuts through the richness of the pithivier beautifully. If you're not as organised as Colin, sauté some finely shredded white cabbage in a pan and add lemon juice and seasoning.

First published in 2015




Ox cheek pithivier


Roasted shallots

Carrots and spinach

Puff pastry

  • 500g of puff pastry
  • 1 egg yolk, for egg wash



  • Pastry brush
  • Pastry cutter


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
Leave the cabbage at room temperature for 14 days, then store in the fridge
For the ox cheeks, start by mixing together the salt and thyme in a bowl until well combined
Roll out the pastry to 4mm thickness and then leave to rest in the fridge for 45 minutes
  • 500g of puff pastry
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
Preheat the oven to 100°C/gas mark 1/4
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
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
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
Lay out the pastry sheet and cut out 8 circles of pastry, 5 inches in diameter each
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
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
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
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
Before constructing the pithiviers, remove the cheeks from the fridge and use your hands to break the meat down into small flakes chunks
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
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
Brush the pithiviers all over with egg wash and leave in the fridge for 10 minutes
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
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
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
Remove the pithiviers from the fridge and bake in the oven for 20 minutes until golden brown
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
Before assembling the final dish, reheat the braise reduction in a small pan and set aside
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
First published in 2015

Colin McGurran began his career with a burning ambition to own a red Mercedes. Almost 20 years on and he has fulfilled that ambition and much more besides.

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