Ox cheek goulash is such a favourite of mine that in my last job, I was referred to by more than one colleague as ‘Goulash Girl’. Not only am I a fan of the meaty winter warmer, but I’m also quite vocal in my adoration…
Goulash originated in Hungary, and is traditionally a soup-y, stew-y dish brimming with meat and veg, and seasoned with paprika. What a combination! Most recipes use stewing steak, which is a great idea as goulash is cooked low and slow and thus cheaper cuts will have time to tenderise and become really tasty. My favourite main ingredient, however, is a little more out there, a whole lot cheaper (yeah, really) and quite a bit richer. Say hello to ox cheek (exactly the same as beef cheek, just to confuse you).
Cheeks are perfect for goulash because they have very little fat and break down differently to other parts of the animal, resulting in a shredded consistency that clings on to all the gorgeous stock and wine that its cooked in. Cost-wise, if you’re cooking on a budget you can buy one cheek (incidentally, the amount you need for my beef cheek goulash recipe below) at many supermarket butcher counters for about £2.50. My go to is Sainsbury’s in Sydenham, South East London, if you happen to live near my neck of the woods. Alternatively, your butcher should be able to get hold of a cheek or two for you from about £5.50 each – be sure to call ahead though as some butchers don’t order in the whole animal and thus won’t have the cheeks to give you.
If you have a slow cooker, ox cheek goulash is the ideal one-pot wonder for it. If you don’t, you can still do this in a big casserole dish, but I’d encourage you to invest in a slow cooker. Ours is a cheap little number from Amazon and it’s a total dream. Either way, you’re going to love this easy ox cheek goulash recipe.
1 ox cheek
Knob of butter & a drizzle of olive oil
1 glass of red wine (something rich and strong like Merlot or Malbec)
1 white onion, diced
1 red onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 beef stock cubes
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon coriander
Salt & pepper
First, seal the ox cheek (whole) in a pan with a little butter, olive oil, salt and pepper. Then put it to one side and fry the onions, garlic and lardons in a pinch of the paprika until golden.
Tip the onions and garlic into the slow cooker (or casserole dish), and add the chopped tomatoes, wine, oregano, coriander, and paprika. Mix the two stock cubes with 1 small mug of hot water, and add that too. Stir well.
Lastly, add the ox cheek and set the slow cooker to ‘low’. With the lid on, cook for 5-8 hours, stirring every couple of hours.
Serve in warmed bowls with a dollop of cool soured cream and crusty bread, cous cous or rice.