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This much under-rated cut of meat is slow-cooked to produce a dish that is wonderfully rich, full of flavour and is very simple to make.
- 750g oxtail
- 300ml red wine
- 100g shallot or onion (3)
- 120g carrot (2)
- 130g celery (2 sticks)
- 2 cloves of garlic (preferably smoked garlic)
- 1 sprig of thyme
- 1 small bunch of parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 litre beef stock
- 1 litre of water
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- greaseproof paper
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 4 hours
Serves: 3 (250g per person)
- Heat the oven to 160°c.
- Peel the carrots and shallots or onion and chop them with the celery into small pieces (about the size of your thumbnail). Peel and roughly chop the garlic.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan, season the oxtail with salt & pepper and fry it until it is brown all over (Tip: use barbeque tongs to turn the oxtail over). Then put it onto a plate.
- Put the carrots, shallots and celery into the frying pan the oxtail was in and fry them until they begin to turn brown (there should still be enough oil in the pan to do this, if not just add some more).
- Add the garlic and fry for 1 minute before putting the contents of the frying pan into into a large pot with a lid. Then put the oxtail, thyme, parsley and bay leaves in, on top of the vegetables.
- Turn down the heat, pour the red wine into the frying pan, scrape of any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan and then pour this onto the oxtail. (If you use gas burners the red wine can burst into flame if the pan is too hot. Turning down the heat before adding the wine helps to avoid this.)
- Add the beef stock and water into the large pot. If the liquid does not cover the oxtail, top it up with more water.
- Place a piece of greaseproof paper larger than the diameter of the pot on top of the liquid and put the lid on.
- Put the pot into the oven and cook it for 4 hours, checking it every half an hour to make sure it hasn’t boiled dry (if it looks like it is becoming too dry, simply add some hot water).
- Remove the oxtail from the pot, sieve the liquid into another pan and boil until it has reduced by half to make the sauce. Discard the vegetables.
- Place the oxtail back into the first pot, pour over the sauce and gently reheat the oxtail for about 5 minutes.
- Serve. We served it with mashed potato, an artichoke heart and boiled baby carrots.
- Braising is a similar process to stewing, the difference is that you are cooking large pieces of meat. With braising, the meat sits on top of the vegetables to prevent it sitting on the bottom of the pan, this ensures that the meat is surrounded by liquid and cooks evenly.
- Browning the meat first, ensures that the meat has a good colour at the end of cooking and also caramalises the natural sugars in the meat which enriches its flavour (known as "the Maillard reaction").
- Putting greaseproof paper on the surface of the liquid helps prevent evaporation from the pot and helps to keep the oxtail moist.
- Traditionally, braised meat was served with the vegeatables from the pot, however, after four hours of cooking, much of their flavour will have been extracted into the sauce, so freshly cooked vegetables are much nicer.