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.

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Market forces

November 5, 2009

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Made a lightning guerrilla raid in a spare 15 minutes to Leicester’s relaunched Farmers’ Market (see post on 25 October). First signs were very positive. It felt a lot more special in its new home and even at 10am appeared to be creating a lot of interest. First purchase was some Egremont Russets (see left – how do ya like dem apples?), the arrival of which is always a highlight of the year for me – though I admit I’m happy to just look at how beautiful they are. Then it was along to the Pick’s farm stall for a couple of dexter burgers (see 31 October). I also picked some value items for autumn evening comfort eating – pork ribs and some dainty little pieces of dexter oxtail. Brockleby’s farm is another stalwart of these events and I got some lamb fillet from their flock of rare breed Jacob sheep.

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With a bit more time I would have investigated some fantastic looking bread, smoked trout, Lincolnshire Poacher cheese, and some of the tasty-looking game (below). Talking briefly with some of the traders they seemed optimistic about the new site. Would be interested to know how the figures stacked up by the end of the day. Did anyone rock along at lunchtime – how did it look?

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Pick a winner

October 31, 2009

Dexter  burgerLunch today was one Pick’s Farms wonderful organic dexter burgers. Dexters are a small breed of cattle –  I always think of the short-legged variety as overgrown Bassett hounds – but the meat always seems to pack a real flavour punch. These burgers are excellent – coarsely minced and not too lean, simply griddled on a really hot pan they maintain a wonderful succulence. A poor quality burger can generally be made palatable with pile of fried onions and a dollop of barbecue sauce, but these are really best served up au naturel, just let those meaty juices seep out into a lightly toasted roll.  Pick’s    has a farm shop out to the north of Leicester in Barkby Thorpe  but can also be found at farmers’ markets and events around the region.

Oh – and the photos will improve. Honest.

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