Ox Cheeks with Quince and Pomegranate

Beef, or ox, cheeks are perfect for slow cooking, cheap and full of flavour. They’re well worth seeking out. A good butcher should be able to help and you can also ask him/her to trim them up for you, although that’s easy enough to do at home.

I’ve cooked them here with quince and pomegranate in a Persian/Iranian-inspired stew. Meltingly soft meat and a gently spiced, sour/sweet fruity sauce – delicious.This is one of the best things I’ve made this year. My thanks to Zara and Cathie for the inspiration. Social media is great when you’re casting about for ideas.

An important note about the quince – most recipes of this sort will tell you to put the peeled and cored quarters in with the meat at the beginning. If I did this with my ripe quince from the garden they’d dissolve into a mush so I added some, chopped, at the beginning for flavour and the rest later so they retained their shape. I’m afraid it’s impossible to give you accurate guidance on when you should add yours, as it depends on their ripeness and, possibly, their variety, so if you are using rock-hard imported quince you’ll need to use your judgement.

Ox Cheeks with Quince and Pomegranate

  • Servings: 4, generously
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2 ox cheeks, about 375g, trimmed and each cut into six even pieces

Salt and pepper

2-3 tbsp extra virgin rapeseed oil, for frying

2 medium onions, peeled and chopped

1/2 tspn ground turmeric

5 green cardamom pods, gently bashed to crack them open slightly

5 cloves

1 tspn ground cumin

1 tspn ground ginger

3″/7.5 cm cinnamon stick

500ml beef stock

300ml pure unsweetened pomegranate juice

1 tbsp pomegranate molasses

3 large quince, peeled, quartered and cored

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tbsp runny honey

Pomegranate seeds and fresh coriander, to garnish


Pre-heat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2.

Peel, quarter and core the quince and put them in a large bowl of cold water acidulated with the juice of half a lemon.

Heat the oil in a large deep frying or casserole pan, one with a lid. Season the pieces of ox cheek with salt and pepper and fry on a high heat until brown and caramelised all over. Remove to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium, add more oil if necessary, and cook the chopped onions until soft and golden. Add the spices and cook gently for a minute or two more. Now pour in the stock, pomegranate juice and pomegranate syrup and allow it all to bubble up and reduce for five minutes.

Dice one of the quinces and add to the pan with the beef and any of its juices. Keep the remaining quarters to add later (but please see note in intro).

Bring the stew to a boil, put on a lid and cook in the oven for two hours, or until the meat is tender, turning the meat at the halfway point. Add the drained quince quarters and the honey and cook for a further 30-40 minutes or until the quince is tender but not breaking up.

If you’re planning to cook this one day to eat the next, stop at this point, cool, cover and refrigerate and finish it just before you want to eat. Bring it back to room temperature before proceeding.

Finally, scoop the beef and (carefully) the quince quarters onto a large plate, put the pan on the stove and reduce the sauce to thicken it, mashing in the diced quince, about 8-10 minutes.

Check the seasoning and add more salt, pepper and/or honey, according to taste. Return the beef and quince quarters to the pan and re-heat gently, making sure they’re well coated with the sauce.

Serve, garnished with pomegranate seeds and fresh coriander, with saffron-infused rice.

10 thoughts on “Ox Cheeks with Quince and Pomegranate

  1. This sounds the perfect dish for next weekโ€™s lunch with friends. Sadly itโ€™s 24 hours late to use fresh fruit – the last of the preserving happened yesterday! Iโ€™m thinking adding some of my membrillo at the end to add the sweet/sour notes and cutting back on the honey might work. I love your ideas for fresh quince – I never make an apple pie this time of year now without adding quince.

    • Hi Sue, lovely to hear from you. What a shame you’ve used all your fresh quince! Yes, membrillo would be lovely – maybe add some more pomegranate syrup to cut the sweetness too. Pleased you like the quince ideas – you know how it is when you have a glut, you have to find new uses all the time! Linda x

      • I’m delighted to say R found two more large quince at the top of the tree. So I made this today with fresh fruit and it was fabulous! Thank you. I’ll certainly do it again – but even the butcher apologised for how much the ox cheeks cost!

      • Oh, great! Delighted you enjoyed it. Obviously ox cheeks are pricey just about everywhere. I shall have to keep my farmers’ market source close to my chest. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • It may simply be a case of asking them, Jeff. This is an example of what one UK supermarket calls ‘forgotten cuts’ (tho’ not in our house) and they probably get chopped up for another use if no-one asks for them. The more we ask, the more likely they are to be publicly on sale. Lx

  2. Oh Lord Linda ! This ‘forgotten cut’ has become one of the most popular beef choices in Australia and we pay a fortune to access beef cheeks these days, many no longer able to afford it ! Here the nose-to-tail movement is gigantic !! I absolutely love your Asian-inspired dish and only have to find that wretched quince to complete . . . thanks and shall pass it in . . .

  3. yes as eha says, beef cheeks are incredibly popular here and not cheap! not too sure about getting hold of quinces here. you rarely see them in shops (maybe never?) so you need to have a friend with a tree and they don’t grow up here in sub tropical brisbane… but i bet you could use other fruits like stone fruits in summer…. cheers sherry

    • Yes, or you could use the beef, prune and orange tagine recipe, Sherry. What a shame (for us cooks) that they’ve become so pricey. I expect they’ll go the same way here, maybe I should keep shtum! ๐Ÿ™‚

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