I’ve eaten oxtail quite a few times and it’s always been in very nice restaurants and has been delicious. Completely delicious, tender and succulent and so tasty. I’ve had it stuffed into wontons and served with scallops in a meaty sauce at Ottolenghi and stuffed into squid and served as a starter at Orwells. But I’ve never tried it the traditional, British way. And I’ve never cooked it.
So tonight, on a wintery Sunday, we ate oxtail stew. The meat is braised slowly for hours and hours in stout and spiced with horseradish and Worcestershire sauce. It’s a recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Best of British book. He serves his with dumplings but I really fancied potato, something I don’t often eat really.
On another page in the same book I’ve had marked a recipe for a fennel and potato bake with yoghurt and cheese and mustard for a while. It’s not dauphinoise, much less fattening than that.
I haven’t made it yet as I wanted to try it with pheasant and add apple into the bake too (another time!) but I fancied it today, tweaked to replace the fennel with parsnips which feel more appropriate with beef somehow. I also wanted to try out my new mandolin!
The results were amazing- such tender meat, with a really rich and distinct flavour. And the potato made for a great accompaniment. Mash would also be great here as it would soak up all the lovely juices.
One of the best things about this dish is how easy and cheap it is. You basically just throw everything in a pot and leave it- you don’t even cook the veg or brown the meat first. And the oxtail only cost £5, although I reckon you’d get it even cheaper from a butcher (I got mine in Waitrose, surprisingly!). Oh, and this recipe will leave you with plenty of leftovers- I’d say it serves 6 people for dinner with sides. Double the quantity of the potato bake ingredients if you’re serving that many.
You will need:
For the stew…
5 tbspns caster sugar
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
2 tbspns Worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins)
250-500ml stout (depending on cooking method- see notes below in the method section)
2kg oxtail (around 4 pieces)
Three sprigs of rosemary, leaves finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped or diced
2 celery sticks, finely chopped or diced
2 onions, finely chopped or diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 bay leaves
1 heaped tbspn hot horseradish sauce
For the potato & parsnip bake
3 medium potatoes, finely sliced using a mandolin (skins on)
1 large parsnip, finely Sliced using a mandolin
1 onion, finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 Tspn nutmeg
400ml vegetable or chicken stock
2 Tspn English mustard
250g non fat natural yoghurt
A handful of grated mature cheddar cheese
A few bay leaves
Two options here- you can use a slow cooker if you like or just cook the stew on the stove on a very low heat. If you slow cook the stew you only need around 250ml of stout, and you need 500ml if you instead chose to cook the stew in a pot on a hob.
1 – Preheat your slow cooker for 30 minutes, as per instructions in the manual, if using
2 – Get a large saucepan and add the sugar and cloves; heat until the sugar just melts and immediately tip in the stout, tomatoes and Worcestershire sauce
3 – Season the sauce and bring it to the boil; pop in the oxtail when it’s bubbling and then all of the other ingredients, except the horseradish
4 – Transfer the stew from your saucepan into the heated slow cooker; leave to cook slowly on a low heat for 6-7 hours or so until the meat pulls away from the bone. Alternatively keep the stew in the pan, cover and cook on a very low heat for 5 hours.
5 – Meanwhile start the bake; scatter randomly the onion, potato and parsnip slices in a heat proof oven dish
6 – Season, add the nutmeg and the bay leaves, then the hot stock; place the dish directly over a hob ring and cook gently for around 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the stock mostly evaporated
7 – Mix the yoghurt and mustard together and mix into the potato; top with cheese and bake for 20 minutes until golden
8 – Meanwhile strip the meat from the bones and remove any gristle from the stew; stir in the horseradish and season to taste before serving with the hot baked potatoes