The Ox Cheeks
Once removed from the packaging you’ll want to spend a few minutes removing all the exterior fat and silverskin from the cheeks. Don’t worry if you feel you are going in fairly heavy on the trim, we’ll be boating these in liquid and covering with foil to ensure they don’t dry out . . . but let’s be honest, there is enough collagen and fat in these to ensure they stay moist anyway.
Once you are happy with the trim coat the cheeks in a little Worcestershire sauce before applying a mix of coarse salt and black pepper (I go for a third salt in the mix).
As we’re starting off using the ‘Smoker’ function of the Ninja Woodfire there is no preheating time required.
Simply add one scoop of ‘Robust Blend’ pellets, select 120°c (250°f) and change the time to 2 hours.
Place the cheeks on the grill plate, insert your probe to monitor temperatures, close the lid and hit START.
Smoke the cheeks for around 1.5 hours OR when you’re happy with the bark / colour OR when they measure around 170°f internal . . . the choice . . . is yours!
What do I do? I cook to temperature 😉
The Slow Braise
We’ll be ‘boating’ the cheeks at this stage . . . if you’ve never done this before it basically means placing the meat in a tray, adding liquid and then wrapping in foil.
Once you’ve added the cheeks to your tray top up with liquid until around a third of the meat is covered. I tend to use good ‘ol beef stock, but feel free to experiment with other options such as ginger beer.
Next (just before you cover in foil) is to sprinkle some light brown sugar on the cheeks . . . trust me . . . it works!
Anyway, once covered return to the Woodfire (still on the ‘Smoker’ function at the same temperature) for another 3-4 hours, or until the cheeks probe like butter and easily pull apart.
Beef cheeks will be ready when they are anything from 96°c (205°f) to as high as 102°c (215°f).
Once the cheeks are probing beautifully remove the tray from the Woodfire and leave, loosely covered in foil, somewhere to rest.
The Final Step
Whilst the cheeks are resting place your fries of choice in the Woodfire and cook to your likeness.
Note: Don’t feel like you need to rush cooking your fries. The cheeks will happily rest in that tray covered in foil for a couple of hours.
5 minutes before the fries are cooked shred the cheeks with your fingers in the stock.
Place the cooked chips on a flat cooking surface (I use the Ninja Griddle Plate) and mix through a handful of cheese (I go for a mix of cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan). Next spoon that lovely shredded cheek meat on top and place back in the Woodfire just for a couple of minutes to melt that cheese.
Note: To keep things easy I leave the Woodfire on the same setting that I used to cook the fries . . . just increase the time for 2 minutes.
To garnish I add some sliced red chilli, spring onions, some coriander leaves and a some freshly grated parmesan.