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Ox Cheek Pithivier

Introduction & method

Pithiviers are something you can make if you want a pie but haven't managed to invent the pie dish. They are quite simple to make and the filling can be sweet or savoury. This family-sized pithivier is filled with unctuous braised ox cheek with layers of carrot and green beans. 

Ox Cheek Pithivier Recipe

Cook the Meat Filling

Preheat your oven to 120° C (248° F) fan / 140° C (284° F) conventional / gas 1. Remove any silverskin from the cheeks. Mix together the salt and the sage, and rub the meat with it all over. Peel and finely dice the onion and carrot, finely dice the celery. Sauté the vegetables in a little oil or butter on medium-low heat until golden - about 5 minutes. Place about one third of the vegetables in a thin layer in an ovenproof dish. Put the meat on top. If your meat is in several pieces, don't overlap them. Add the remaining veggies around and on top of the meat. Pour in the stock or wine (if you are using wine, you'll need to boil it first to get rid of the alcohol). If it doesn't quite cover the meat, top up with more stock or wine. Put a lid on the dish and cook in the oven for at least 3½ hours. If the meat is not tender after this, give it more time.

When it's cooked, remove the meat from the veggies and liquid, and put it in the fridge to cool completely.  Strain the liquid from the veg and set aside.

Cook the Veggies

Top and tail the carrots and green beans, peel the carrots. Slice the carrots into discs about 5mm (quarter inch) thick. Simmer the carrots and beans for 5 minutes, then remove from the water and plunge into a bowl of iced water (the veg, not you).

Assemble the Filling

Our goal here is to create a dome of meat filling with a layer of carrots and a layer of green beans. Find a deep soup or cereal bowl that will contain all the filling without too much of a gap at the top. Shred the meat and mix about 5 tablespoons of the cooking liquid into it. Press about one third of it into the bowl. Press the top flat with the bottom of a glass. Arrange your carrot discs in a single layer, getting them as close to each other as you can. Press another layer of meat on top of the carrots, then arrange a layer of green beans side by side - you'll need to trim some of them to fit in the bowl. Put the rest of the meat on top and press it flat again. Put the bowl back in the fridge to set for about another 30 minutes.

Assemble the Pithivier

Preheat your oven to 160° C (320° F) fan / 180° C (356° F) conventional / gas 4. Put some flour on your worktop and roll out half of the puff pastry into a disc that's about 4mm (quarter inch) thick. Using a bowl that's the same size as the one you have the filling in as a guide, cut the pastry into a disc about 10mm (half an inch) bigger all round than the bowl. Tip out your dome of filling into the centre of this, and moisten the edge of the pastry with water. Roll out the remaining pastry into a disc that's about 5cm (2 inches) bigger than the bowl. cit a 1cm (half inch) hole in the centre of the disc. Carefully drape this over the dome of pastry and smooth it down to meet the rim of the base. Try not to fold or crease the pastry. Press the 2 pieces of pastry together all round to form a seal. 

If you like, roll a small piece of pastry into a sausage and coil it round the vent hole like a chimney. Paint the whole thing with beaten egg, then decorate it by scoring curved lines from the top to the bottom. They'l be almost touching at the top, and about 2cm (an inch) apart at the base. Bke in the oven for 30 minutes, turning halfway though to get an evenly golden crust.

To Serve

On high heat, reduce the cooking liquor by about two thirds. Serve the pithivier with some of this jus and a dollop of choucroute/sauerkraut.

The video above is from the Keef Cooks YouTube channel. Click here to see the video recipe of Ox Cheek Pithivier on YouTube.


Ingredients & Info

 2 ox cheeks
 1 tsp thyme
 1 tsp salt
 500 ml beef stock or red wine
 50 grams onion
 50 grams carrot
 50 grams green bean
 1 block puff pastry


Beaten egg to glaze.

US Customary/Imperial

Serves 2 -4
Prep time: 20 minutes.
Cooling time: 30 minutes.
Cooking time: 4 hours.
Total time: 4 hours 50 minutes.