Oxtail Stew (Winter Warmer)

This will serve 4 - 6 people. Preparation time is about 20 minutes, and cooking time is 4 to 4 1/2 hours.

This is a deliciously beefy delight which was a regular on tables in the "good old days" when people didn't waste a thing from an animal. Being the tail, it's a similar meat to the cheeks, in that it's a hard working part of the animal in life, therefore, it's tasty when cooked slowly. Given a good strong stock and red wine, the end result is a rich, flavoursome, winter warmer.

Ingredients:

4 tbsp vegetable oil

3 tbsp flour

1 whole oxtail (approx.2¼lb/1 kilo in weight) separated into 2"/5cm vertebrae chunks

1 -2 glasses of red wine

1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

1 tbsp tomato puree

2 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

1 or 2 baby leeks, cleaned and thickly sliced

2 celery sticks, roughly chopped

2 bay leaves

2 ½ pints/ 1.25 litres beef stock

2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, stalks and leaves, roughly chopped + leaves for garnish

2 or 3 Sprigs of Thyme

1 tbsp plain flour

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp English mustard powder (optional)

 

 Ingredients

 

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C/Gas 3.

On top of the stove, heat the oil in a large ovenproof casserole dish. Add the salt, pepper and mustard powder (if desired) to your flour and mix thoroughly. Role the oxtail chunks a few at a time in the flour and then brown, in the hot oil, do not crowd the pan; remove and keep to one side as they brown (Fig 1).

Add the onion and garlic, stir well and cook for 3 minutes to soften the onion, don't brown them. If the onion is starting to brown, lower the heat.

Add all the remaining ingredients, stir well until they start to colour.

Once all of the oxtail pieces and other ingredients have been browned or coloured, remove them.

Then turn up the heat, add the wine to the pan and deglaze by stirring with a wooden spatula; this will loosen any flour or meat juices and add all of those flavours to your sauce.

Add the stock and as it warms gently return all of the ingredients to the pan (Fig 2), bring to a gentle boil and then cover with a lid, place in a preheated oven for 3 hours.

Remove the dish from the oven; take off the lid and leave to cool. Take out the meat from the casserole dish and wait for it to cool to hand temperature. Pull or cut the pieces of tender meat from the bones (Fig 3) and return this to the casserole.

Leave the dish to cool overnight in the fridge if possible, if not, somewhere cool but tamperproof (old larder).

The next day, there may be a layer of fat on the top of the stew, using a spoon, carefully remove as much as you want to from the surface, but remember, this is flavour you are removing. Place the covered stew into a preheated hot oven (400°F/200°C/Gas 6) for an hour. As with virtually all stews they will taste better the next day.

After an hour, uncover the stew and allow it to cook on in the oven for a further 15 minutes or until the sauce really thickens. You can add some butter/flour (Roux) to thicken if you feel it requires this. Leave to stand for 10 minutes, adjust the seasoning to your personal taste, sprinkle with the parsley leaves and serve.

Oxtail stew can work well with robust flavours alongside it so serve with celeriac mash, or just some mashed potatoes in which you can add horseradish, or Olive Oil and Parmesan Cheese to increase the flavour (Fig 4). Cauliflower Cheese works well for full on flavour, this stew also cries out for Suet Dumplings.

Enjoy, it is so flavoursome.

Figure 1 Figure 2 Figure 3 Figure 4