Cheek and Tail Pie

A hearty British recipe for a chilly evening. This cheek and tail pie showcases smoky belly bacon, ox cheek and oxtail with flavours from pale ale and HP sauce.

Hawksmoor at Home: Meat - Seafood - Sides - Breakfasts - Puddings - Cocktails
By Huw Gott, Richard Turner & Will Beckett
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Introduction

Along with sausages, pies are the traditional repositories for animal odds and ends and as such pie-makers have long been accused of taking advantage of sealed lids and murky interiors to sneak in all sorts of unmentionables. Others used pies to showcase a particular delicacy. Hence the pie of bull’s testicles Pope Pius V found himself eating in the sixteenth century (peeled, boiled, sliced and layered with minced lambs’ kidneys and ham). British equivalents have included an udder pie (served hot or cold) and the long-lost ‘tiddago’ pie from Cornwall (made with prematurely born piglets).

We’ve been a little more conventional in our choice of filling - ox cheek, oxtail and a touch of Stilton. Hearty fare for cold winter nights.

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 x 300ml bottle pale ale
500g piece of smoked belly bacon
500g ox cheek
1kg oxtail, jointed
10g seasoned flour
beef dripping for frying
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
150g carrot, chopped
150g button mushrooms, quartered
2 l beef stock
1 tbsp HP sauce
50g Stilton cheese
1 marrow bone 6cm long
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the pastry:
500g self-raising flour
5g baking powder
2g chopped thyme leaves
100g bone marrow, chilled and grated, or suet
100g butter, chilled and grated
4 egg yolks
iced milk
sea salt and black pepper

Essential kit

You will need a pie dish.

Instructions

Cut the ox cheek into generous chunks, add the oxtail and bacon and marinade for 2-3 hours in the beer.

Next make the pastry. In a bowl mix the flour, baking powder, thyme and freshly ground black pepper. Gently mix in the grated bone marrow or suet and butter, then add the beaten egg yolks and enough iced milk to bind. The idea is to bring the mix together into a paste. Wrap in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for at least an hour or until needed, preferably later the same day.

Drain the oxtail and ox cheek, pat dry and dust in seasoned flour. Drain and cut the bacon into lardons. In a large pan, heat the dripping and brown the meat, then brown the onions, garlic, carrots and mushrooms. Add the beer marinade, the stock and HP sauce. Simmer for 2 hours, or until the meat is tender.

Lift out the meat and vegetables and set them aside. Increase the heat and reduce the sauce to a coating consistency, skimming it as you go. Pick the meat off the oxtail and discard the bones, then return all the meat and vegetables to the sauce, stir in the Stilton, correct the seasoning and cool.

Fill the pie dish with meat mixture and place the marrow bone in the centre of the pie like a pie funnel.

Roll out the pastry about 1cm thick and cover the pie, allowing a generous overhang. The marrow bone should sit proud of the pastry.

Glaze with milk and bake for 30-40 minutes at 180°C/350°F/Gas 4, or until the pastry is well browned.

Serve with buttered greens and mashed potatoes.

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