Grilled Oyster & Braised Cheek of Hardiesmill Beef, Borlotti Beans and Onions by Derek Johnstone, Head Chef at Borthwick Castle

I’m a huge fan of what Hardiesmill is doing; it’s so inspiring to see a local farm in the Borders taking such great care of their livestock and such pride in their produce. Hardiesmill is a real success story, and a supplier I’ve come to rely on over the past few years – not only in the day-to-day running of the kitchen at Borthwick Castle, but when I recently travelled to Sheffield to compete in the semi-finals of the Craft Guild of Chefs’ National Chef of the Year competition. Challenged to create a main course with two cuts of beef, mine had to be Hardiesmill.

This recipe I’m sharing with you today is a variation of that dish. The oyster is a very small muscle which my butcher, Brian, takes from the very end of the rib eye and at the beginning of the shoulder. This cut has a wonderful flavour and is beautifully tender, having been matured on the bone for 5 weeks. Along with the oyster, I’ve used beef cheek, slowly braised to give a completely different texture to the dish. The Hardiesmill herd are fed on grass all year round, which has a huge effect on the flavour of the meat, too.

This recipe would be perfect for a special dinner over the summer. You could even finish the oyster of beef on the barbecue if you’re feeling adventurous – it adds lots of flavour and plenty of fun!


For the oyster of beef:

  • 220g beef oyster
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • Rapeseed oil
  • ½ a clove of garlic, peeled
  • 1 thyme sprig

For the braised beef cheek:

  • 500g beef cheek, trimmed
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 leek, diced and washed
  • 1 celery stick, washed and chopped
  • 500ml Chianti red wine
  • 1 litre of veal stock
  • 500ml brown chicken stock
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • Vegetable oil
  • Sea salt and pepper

For the Borlotti beans:

  • 200g Borlotti Beans, soaked
  • 1 x bouquet garni
  • 500ml brown chicken stock
  • 2g chopped tarragon leaves
  • 20g broad beans
  • 10g unsalted butter
  • 20g smoked pancetta
  • Salt and pepper, to season

For the roasted banana shallot:

  • 1x banana shallot
  • 1x sprig of thyme
  • 20g butter
  • Sea salt, to season

For the kibbled onions:

  • 15g kibbled onions (also known as crispy onions, available to buy in your local supermarket)
  • 5g panko breadcrumbs
  • 2g grated horseradish


For the oyster of beef

1. The day before cooking, marinade the meat in the thyme, garlic and rapeseed oil, and leave overnight.

2. The next day, season the meat and pan fry it on a griddle pan for 4-5 minutes on each side.

3. Allow to rest for 2 minutes before carving and plating up.

For the braised beef cheek

1. In a heavy-based pan, heat the oil until hot and add the seasoned beef cheek.

2. Colour until golden brown and caramelised all over, then remove from the pan.

3. Add all the chopped vegetables except the leeks. Allow to caramelise, then add the leeks and cook until soft.

4. Remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside with the beef shin.

5. Deglaze the pan with the red wine, and cook until the wine has been reduced by two thirds. Add the cheek and vegetables to the deglaze.

6. Cover with veal stock and chicken stock and add the thyme.

7. Cover with a cartouche and cook slowly for 8 hours, or until tender.

8. Once the beef cheek is cooked, allow to cool in the liquid until able to touch. Remove the cheek from the cooking juices and roll tightly in cling film until you get a perfect cylinder. Chill until required.

9. Pass the liquid through a fine sieve and reduce by two thirds, then taste and adjust the seasoning.

For the Borlotti beans

1. Soak the dried beans in water.

2. Bring the chicken stock to the boil and add the beans, pancetta and bouquet garni.

3. Cook for 1 hour until the beans are tender, then remove the bouquet garni, pancetta pieces and reduce the stock.

4. Add the butter to thicken the stock then add the chopped tarragon and broad beans.

5. Warm through, then season and serve.

For the roasted banana shallot

1. Wash the shallot and cut in half vertically.

2. In a hot pan, place the shallots presentation side down.

3. Once a little colour is achieved, add the butter and thyme, and cook the shallot through in the oven until golden and tender.

4. Remove from the oven, remove the skin, and season. Serve hot immediately.

For the kibbled onions

1. Mix the kibbled onions together with the bread crumbs and grated horseradish.