Cheeky Cow!

Mike, our butcher, had got a couple of Ox Cheeks in. I’ve never had them before but I thought I’d give them a go.

I’d read about them and understood that they needed a nice slow cook. Apparently they make an absolutely wicked chilli, or should that be cheeky chilli!Ox Cheek 1

 I think the bit of Irish in me had attuned to the fact that St Patricks day was approaching so I decided to cook these cheeky chappies in Guinness (other stouts are available…)with a few flat mushrooms, carrots and onions and serve them with a good dollop of Champ, that comforting dish of mashed potato with spring onions and lots of butter!Champ 1

I have to say that I was not disappointed with the results. After quite a few hours of cooking I had a gorgeous dark gravy and the cheeks were moist and succulent and had a lovely beefy flavour that reminded me of a cross between beef shin and Ox tail.

Ox Cheek 8


 The Cheeks went a long way too. They are quite rich due to the gelatinous nature of them so a little seems to go a long way. You shouldn’t pay a lot for them either which makes them a real bargain.

With the leftover meat, champ and gravy I made some potato cakes with the meat in the middle, baked them in the oven and served them with some peas and the leftover gravy… I’ll tell you something, leftovers don’t get much better!

I would recommend anyone to give Ox cheeks a go. They are a very forgiving meat to cook as long as they are cooked for plenty of time, they are cheap and extremely tasty. Don’t be put off by the look of them or the part of the animal they are from. They really are delicious which is probably why all the celebrity chefs are coming out with recipes for them… lets hope they don’t succeed in pushing up the price of these cheeky little morsels!

Ox Cheek 2

Recipe (to serve 8 adults)

 2 Ox Cheeks (about 900g – 1 KiloOx Cheek 3

1 large or two medium onions chopped

2 garlic cloves chopped

4 large carrots cubed/sliced

8 – 12 flat mushrooms sliced

Plain flour (some)

About 400ml beef stock

2 x 500ml bottles of Guinness

1 or two star anise

1 Tablespoon muscavado sugar or other dark sugar

Pinch of thyme

Good pinch of salt to taste and a really good grind of black pepper

For the Champ

 2 kilo peeled potatoes

2 bunch spring onions (12-16)Champ 2

50 gram butter

200ml milk


 When we had this we prepared it the day before we were going to have it so that it could be put straight in the oven to be ready for teatime. It’s a good idea to do if you have a busy day.

 First off dice your onions and finely chop your garlic and fry gently in a large oven proof pan. Add the carrot, thickly sliced and continue to gently fry.

 Prepare your Ox Cheek by taking off the outer thick bits of fat and any thick bits of membrane. Don’t worry too much about the state of your cheeks being perfect, after a long slow cook they’ll be fine.

 Once the onion has softened and the carrot is stating too take on a bit of colour add your cheeks to brown.

 Heat your stock ready to go in the pan.

 Once your cheeks are nice and brown sprinkle over some flour to roughly coat everything in the pan. Continue to cook gently for a couple more minutes.Ox Cheek 3

Add your stock a little at a time while giving everything a bit of a stir. You should end up with a thick paste. If it’s a little lumpy don’t worry as after a long cook it should cook out.

Now pour in your two bottles of Guinness. Remember to do a quality control taste on each bottle before adding!

 Ox Cheek 4

Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer.

Ox Cheek 5


Ox Cheek 6


Once the liquid has come to the simmer you can either take off the heat, cool and refrigerate to cook the next day or it can be put in the oven to finish off.

The Stew can be cooked,covered, on 165°C for three hours or 150°C for about six hours. We put our stew straight in the oven from the fridge. We put it in a cold oven set to 150°c where it stayed for three hours and then we turned it up to 160°c for another three hours, after which it was cooked perfectly. The cheeks were lifted out of the gravy to rest while the gravy was put in the oven uncovered to reduce slightly.

As for the champ, well thats dead easy. Peel and cut your potatoes into approximately 1 1/2’’ chunks. Plonk into a pan and just cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes or until tender. Drain the potatoes and put on a very low heat until the steam almost stops (meaning all the excess water has evaporated and you’ll have nice fluffy potatoes).

While your potatoes are finishing, put the onions, milk, butter and seasoning in a pan and warm gently allowing all the flavours to infuse.

When your potatoes are ready give them a good mashing and then fold the milk, butter and onion mixture into the potatoes.

Once your ready to plate up the Ox cheeks can be sliced or pulled apart with a fork. Simply put a dollop of Champ into a dish, place some Ox cheek on top then ladle some gravy over the top. We finished our dish off with a little purple sprouting broccoli.

 Ox Cheek 9

A nice cheap meal that really tasted like something you should be paying a lot of money for in a trendy ‘Gastro’ pub.

Happy St Patricks Day everybody… enjoy your Guinness, in moderation… of course!



If you haven’t already made your Christmas Puddings then Sunday the 24th of November is the time to do it, the last Sunday before the start of Advent and traditionally known as Stir Up Sunday.

Here is a fail safe recipe for a lovely moist, boozy pudding!




600g mixed dried fruit and nuts. I use roughly 500g of mixed dried fruits (predominately raisins, sultanas and currants with a few cranberries, sour cherries and a good handful of glace cherries). For the nuts I usually use nibbed almonds.

500ml bottle of Guinness

300ml port

100ml brandy


200g shredded suet (proper beef is best, you can use vegetarian of course)

zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon

2 medium cooking apples grated

freshly grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

250g muscavado sugar

75g plain flour

3 medium eggs beaten

150g breadcrumbs




Soak the fruit for at least 24 hours in the alcohol (if you don’t want to use alcohol then you could use tea and orange juice)

In a large bowl mix all the ingredients together. Get the whole family to give it a stir and make a wish at the same time (my wish is that the pudding turns out ok!)

Grease a large pudding bowl and a few smaller ones (ideal for giving away to friends, family and neighbours), pour the pudding mixture into the bowls leaving an inch from the top.

Cover the mixture with a circle of greaseproof paper. cover the bowl with tinfoil (with a pleat in it to allow for the pudding to expand) and then place in a large pan on a trivet with a folded strip of tin foil underneath to allow you to lift the pudding out. Pour water into the pan to come up 2/3 of the way up the pudding basin.

Put the pan on to boil. When boiling turn down to a simmer and cover the pan. A large pudding will take 2 1/2 to 3 hours to cook (test with a skewer, the skewer wants to come out clean). I usually take the pan off the heat but leave the pudding in the water for an hour just to make sure the pudding is evenly cooked through.

Lift the pudding out of the water and set aside to cool. Once cool I take the pudding out of the basin, wrap in greaseproof paper, then cling film and then tin foil. I then put in a spare cool box where it stays until the big day.

On the day you are eating having the pudding it can either be put back in the basin it was cooked in and boiled again for an hour to heat up or it can be microwaved in short bursts (a couple of minutes at a time leaving a minute in between).

To serve place the pudding on a heatproof plate. Pour a couple tablespoons of Brandy into a ladle and gently heat over a low flame. Once the Brandy starts to shimmer pour over the pudding and light with a match.

Remember to have a bucket of water and fire extinguisher on hand… just in case!

Merry Christmas!

Flaming Pudding!

P.S try slices of leftover pudding fried in butter for breakfast… Fantastic!

Awww! Do I Have To??!!!!

Come wind, rain, hail, snow or shine, Flossie, Buttercup, Donkey, Matilda, Monsey & our 2 new additions (it’s amazing what you come home with when you’ve just been for a walk in the park!) Stuffin’ & Strudel all need feeding, watering & their eggs collecting.

chickens & ducks

We discussed all this with our Kids before we decided on getting chickens & ducks. We pointed out the up-sides & down-sides of having different animals.




We decided:

1.       No to a dog as they need walking at least 3 times a day whatever the weather, they need lots of human company & food & vet fees are very expensive. Plus the thought of pooper-scooping with a little thin plastic bag & nowhere to wash your hands just really does not float my boat (although my mind may be changed when doggie-nappies are invented).

2.       No to a rabbit because as well as feeding & watering it every day it would also have to be cleaned out most days. Plus we know people who get their kids a rabbit & after a few weeks the ‘novelty’ wears off because to be honest, a rabbit doesn’t really do much…..apart from settle down in your veg patch & eat the fruits of your labours.

3.       No to a hamster/other small rodents because of the ‘novelty’ factor again & largely being nocturnal it’s not a good match for kids who go to sleep at night. Also when we’re up with the first sparrow-pump everyday I don’t want to be laid in bed listening to a hamster going for a 40k run on its wheel at 3am.


So the decision was made for chickens & ducks because:

1.       They don’t need human company all the time.Chicken

2.       Feed is relatively cheap.

3.       They will help keep the slug & snail population down in the garden.

4.       They will be interesting to watch when they’re let out of their run to roam & peck around the garden.

5.       No vet fees! (If one gets poorly we’ll ‘Do the Deed’ of dispatching in a calm & relaxed manner).

6.       Eggs galore!

7.       When they’ve gone past their laying best we will ‘Do the Deed’ & use the chicken or duck to its full potential with no waste.


Yes! to those of you who are shocked.  We would kill & eat our chickens & ducks. They will have had a fantastic life, lots of space, a wide varied diet & top quality care from our Kids. We even sat MissT down & showed her a video on YouTube of a lady dispatching of one of her chickens in a calm & humane way to give MissT an idea of what would happen & she was totally fine with it. I think she even asked ‘Could it be used in a curry?’.


So every morning the care of our chickens & ducks is carried out by our Kids. Our Kids aren’t perfect. Every now & then one of them will come out with the protest ‘Do I Have To!?!’. We tell them firmly ‘Yes you do, otherwise when we next have eggs for tea you will not get anything’. This soon gets them in gear, getting their wellies on & trotting off down the garden.



I have to admit it is easier with 4 kids. One does the food, one does the water, one releases the animals & they all check for eggs. Yup we’ve had a couple of dropped eggs but over-all it goes smoothly.


The chucks & ducks love seeing the Kids & will happily follow them around or be handled or stroked by them. In return our Kids have great respect for them & have learnt so much, such as, they love warm porridge when the weather is freezing, they’re a bit partial to left-over pasta, how to introduce new additions & ducks eat frogs (yup that was a bit traumatic)!


After over a year of keeping chucks & ducks the excitement of discovering a newly laid egg or actually seeing one laid has never lost its novelty…& I don’t think it ever will.


They all have their own personalities too. Matilda, Monsey & Strudel keep themselves to themselves & love it when it rains. Donkey & Buttercup are easy going & friendly. Stuffin’ is very loyal & will follow the kids all over & loves being fussed. Flossie….mmm…yes Flossie. She is a law unto herself.  I’ve never known an animal kick up such a fuss just because a sparrow has landed on a branch near the coop. Or because one of the others is perched where she now wants to perch.


Put it this way, if chickens had PMT then Flossie would really need to stock up on the evening primrose oil!


Kit x

feeding chickens