Oxtail Stew

November 9, 2009

An  epic November stew for dinner this evening. Oxtail is one of those those cuts that looks inedible but with long, slow, alchemical cooking turns into something quite, quite wonderful. It’s not one of those dishes you could choose in a restaurant,  or would serve to your sophisticated friends at a dinner party. You plate it up, use a knife and fork for a bit, and then succumb to the inevitable and pick up the bones and chew and suck on the bones for all you are worth.

Don’t be tempted to finesse it, to  introduce –  I dunno –  fennel or something. Just slice an onion and a carrot, trim the meat of excess fat, brown the meat, cover with a mixture of stock and wine according to you preference and budget, and cook for as long as you can at the lowest heat you can. At least three hours, but why not five, during which time you’ll need to skim off the rendered fat but by the end of which the meat will be falling of the bones.  You might want to introduce a little tomato puree at a late stage, maybe a little bit of sugar, but that’s it. Leave the rest to the magic in those bones. The unctous goo that comes out of the bones will thicken the juices into a glossy, sticky, glorious sauce.

If  I’d planned better I’d have made some dumplings. As it was, a baked potato was quite sufficient.  At this point I suppose I should apologise to the vegetarians who’ve made it this far. All I’d say is that ‘nose to tail’ eating is surely a defensible ethical position once you’ve decided you are going to eat meat.

Anyway here’s a picture – the lack of restaurant quality presentation is entirely deliberate.



5 Responses to “Oxtail Stew”

  1. One of my all time favorite fall and winter time dishes. Makes me drool thinking about it. Ever try it with polenta?



  2. riponia said

    Mmmm. I can imagine that working. I assume the Italians have their way of doing the dish. Might give that a try next time.


  3. Chris Faulkner said

    Mmmmm. I am putting a note in my diary … must get some of that Oxtail next time the Farmers’ market is in town !

    Really enjoying this blog.


  4. alex said

    i think you need a bigger plate.

    i’ve only had oxtail once – in the form of a tortelini as part of ‘beef three ways’ at hambleton, and it was delicious.

    (not that i’m complaining at all but) what is it with ‘everything has to be done in three ways’ in fine dining restaurants – its a good idea, but now its been done to death.


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