Oxtail, anyone?

I remember when oxtail made a cheap meal; it doesn’t any more. However, it is worth seeking out. With long, slow cooking it makes beautifully gelatinous stock and it works really well with the root vegetables which are readily available at this time of year. It’s very unlikely that you’ll find oxtail in the supermarket but if, like me, you are lucky enough to still have a proper local butcher or a farm shop, it’s well worth asking for it. The trick with oxtail is, I’ve found, to make sure you start cooking it the day before you plan to eat it so, on day one:-

  • Heat your oven to Gas 4
  • Take a flameproof casserole pot and brown your oxtail pieces in a little fat or oil
  • While that’s happening take two beef stock cubes and dissolve them in hot water
  • When the oxtail pieces have finished browning, add enough stock to just cover them, put the lid onto your casserole pot and put it into the oven
  • Cook for half an hour at Gas 4 then turn the oven down to 3 and let the oxtail cook for a further two and a half hours

When that’s done, leave the oxtail pieces in the casserole with the stock and let them go completely cold then put the whole lot into the fridge and forget about it until the next day. On day two:-

  • Heat your oven to Gas 5
  • Take the casserole out of the fridge and open it. You will find a layer of set fat on top. Remove this and discard it. If you leave it in the pot your dish will be spoiled by being too greasy
  • Put the casserole into the oven to allow the stock to melt and, while that’s happening, prepare your vegetables
  • When they’re ready, add them to the casserole and let the meat heat through while they cook. How long this takes will depend on your choice of vegetables and how big or small you’ve chopped them

Thus, with a bit of forward planning, you’ll have a beautiful one-pot wonder with meat falling off the bones and just right to serve in a comforting bowl. Enjoy!