Prep time: 7 hours 20 minutes
6 ox cheeks, weighing about 4 1/2 - 5 1/2 pounds
For the brining solution:
2 liters water
1/2 cup dark muscovado sugar
1/2 cup Cornish sea salt
couple sprigs of thyme
6 bay leaves
10 black peppercorns
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
for the sauce:
5 large shallots, peeled, halved, and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
2 cups red wine
6 cups ml beef stock
1 cup tomato ketchup
1 cup HP sauce
2 tablespoons English mustard
2 tablespoons clear honey
2 tablespoons Tabasco
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 1/4 cup Henderson's relish
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the autumn slaw:
2 medium-sized golden or candy beets, peeled
1 small bulb of fennel, halved and sliced
1 small red onion, peeled, halved, root removed and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 tablespoons crème fraîche
squeeze of lemon juice
1 tablespoons chopped chervil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Chefs Note: Smoking is optional, although recommended. If you don't have access to a smoker, then you can use a BBQ and place a piece of wood that has been soaked in water directly on the coals and close the lid.
1. First, make the brining solution. Warm all of the ingredients for the brine in a pan, stirring occasionally until the sugar and salt have dissolved (do not let it boil). Then, remove from heat and leave to cool. Put the cheeks in a bowl, pour the brine over, and leave for 4 hours.
2. Gently rinse the cheeks and lightly dry.
3. Cold smoke for 4 hours in a Bradley smoker using oak and apple wood chips. Bradley smokers smoke with compressed bricks of wood, which automatically drop in to the firebox every 20 minutes and don't require any attention. (Oak and apple are the smoking woods of choice for the Hix cure smoked salmon are work perfectly for this dish.)
4. Next, make the sauce. Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy based frying pan and lightly colour the cheeks or roast them briefly in a hot oven. Mix all of the other ingredients together and mix with the cheeks and cook at 150°C/300°F gas mark 2 for 3 hours, or until tender and the meat is just falling apart.
5. With a sharp knife, thinly slice the beetroot, then shred the slices into matchstick-like slithers.
6. Mix the beetroot, fennel, and onion in a bowl with enough mayonnaise and crème fraîche to just bind; season and lemon juice to taste, finish with chervil. Combine cheeks with sauce and slaw and enjoy.