The King of stews, ruler of the land of winter comfort food.
Lip-smacking rich tomato and red wine gravy covered oxtail pieces quite literally falling of the bone. I can say with all honesty that there has very seldom been an occasion where oxtail was placed in front of me and i did not have to rear a full force internal battle of will to decline second and third helpings, except in a restaurant, of course, in which case i resort to the battle of good manners and try not to lick my plate clean.
Because of this, and the fact that oxtail is so surprisingly easy to prepare and a very affordable cut at that, I have decided to make it at home. And enough of it to satisfy any amount of additional servings and plate licking fancies I might just have to succumb to.
Oxtail stew (serves 4)
1 kg oxtail
2 onions, diced
2 tsp chopped garlic
300g diced carrot
3 tsp fresh thyme (about 4-5 sprigs)
2 tsp fresh rosemary (a sprig)
a splash of olive oil
500 ml GOOD QUALITY liquid beef stock (NOMU)
500 ml DECENT red wine
300 ml tomato puree (the bottled or tinned variety, not the pasta which is much more concentrated)
Salt and black pepper
Heat some olive oil in a oven-proof heavy based pot/ cast iron skillet. Season the oxtail pieces and brown in the oil. Remove and set aside. Reduce heat.
Add the butter to the pot. Once melted, also add the onions and sauté on a medium heat till glassy. Now you are ready to add the garlic, carrots and fresh herbs. Sautee for a further 3-5 minutes. Meanwhile prepare your stock. Add the tomato paste to the onion mix. Return the oxtail pieces to the pot and cover with stock and red wine. Add the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a slow but steady simmer. Cover with tin foil or lid and put it into the oven at 150ºC. Slow cook in the oven for about 4 and a half hours, or till the meat starts falling off the bone. Serve you’re absolutely delicious oxtail with rice or mash, or like in my case, butternut mash(recipe below) and a glass of good red wine.
A note to the model/exemplary cook: oxtail really benefits from being prepared a day in advance as this gives the flavours time to deepen and develope even further. Just saying.
For butternut mash, blend together
500 g ready-to-use butternut chunks, steamed or roasted until tender
½ cup grated Italian Parmesan
2 T butter
a splash of cream or milk (optional)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste