Welsh Beef ox cheek casserole by Tom Simmons

  • Prep time 15 mins
  • Cook time 3 hrs 30 mins
  • Serves 4


  • 2 PGI Welsh Beef ox cheeks (approx. 500g each), cut into 1 inch pieces or alternatively you can use diced stewing steak
  • 150g smoked bacon lardons
  • 2 small onions, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 celery sticks, diced
  • 50g tomato paste
  • 350ml red wine
  • 1l chicken stock
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 5 sprigs thyme, leaves picked

For the dumplings:

  • 100g shredded suet
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 130ml cold water
  • 20g tarragon, chopped
  • 40g mature Welsh cheddar, grated
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper, freshly ground


  1. Season the ox cheek pieces with salt and pepper and lightly coat them in plain flour.
  2. Heat a non-stick casserole pot on the hob over a high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of salted butter to the pot along with a couple of tablespoons of rapeseed oil.
  3. Once the butter starts foaming, carefully add the ox cheek pieces to the pot and colour on both sides (2 minutes each side), ensuring you don’t burn the butter! Once the ox cheek pieces are brown, remove them and place them to one side for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the bacon lardons to the pot and stir until golden. Add the diced onions to the bacon lardons and turn down the heat. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent.
  5. Once the onions are cooked, add the carrots, garlic and celery and cook for a further 3-4 minutes – stirring occasionally.
  6. Add the tomato paste. It’s important to cook the paste slightly as it can make the casserole bitter. This should be done over a low heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  7. Finally, add the red wine, bay leaves and thyme and increase the heat. Make sure you stir it regularly to avoid it burning. Reduce the wine by two thirds and add the chicken stock and browned ox cheeks.
  8. Place the lid on and cook on a very low heat for 2 hours, stirring every so often.
  9. Make the dumplings while the casserole is cooking. Mix the flour, tarragon, cheese, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Add the suet pastry but don’t break it up. Add enough cold water (approx. 130ml) to form an elastic dough. You’ll know it’s ready when it comes away from the sides of the bowl easily. Shape into 12 balls and set aside.
  10. Remove the lid after 2 hours and place the dumplings directly on to the casserole, make sure you leave a couple of centimetres between each one.
  11. Place the lid on and put the casserole into a preheated oven at 190˚C / 170 ˚C fan / Gas 5 for a further 25 minutes (you can leave the lid off if you prefer a crust on your dumplings).
  12. To serve, carefully remove the dumplings and stir a handful of chopped flat leaf parsley into the casserole. Ladle into a bowl and top with dumplings!
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