I have never before made oxtail stew. Shocking really. I tend to buy shin of beef for a stew but I spotted two lovely pieces of oxtail in the butchers on saturday and thought it was about time I tried it. I have always thought that oxtail was a cheap cut, but the butcher says that it is comparatively expensive as it costs about the same price as shin but of course has more waste with the bone. It is also very popular this time of year and the cow only has one tail. So apparently it’s not the cheap option. However, bones give better flavour and this stew was tasty. It was quite a lot more work than a shin stew though, as the oxtail gives a great deal of fat, almost a mugful in this case. So you need to make it the day before, chill it, then scrape off the top layer of fat that will have solidified on the surface. I then chose to take the meat off the bone before reheating to make it easier to eat at the table. I like to eat a stew with a spoon.
Britain is having a miserable weather week, rain and dull skies so stew is a popular comfort food. This week I read about Wendy’s beef cheek stew, which will be next on my list to try I think. Greedy Rosie also made oxtail this week, so if you want to compare recipes pop over and have a look at her stew made in her slow cooker.
You probably do need to have a slow cooker or an Aga to make this stew as it needs about 8 hours simmering away and this may be costly in a normal oven.
This is a general guide, put more or less in as you feel and you could add potatoes or pulses to make it even more substantial.
1kg of oxtail, separated into pieces (they can come tied in a bundle)
2 onions, sliced
5 sticks of celery, sliced
4 carrots, sliced
50g (2oz) flour
50ml madeira or sherry
900 ml (1½ pints) of good beef stock
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried mixed herbs, or a bundle of fresh herbs if you have them to make a bouquet garni
salt and pepper
Brown the meat well in a large casserole dish that is suitable for the hob and the oven, otherwise do the browning and cooking in a frying pan and then transfer it all to a casserole dish that is suitable for the oven or into a slow cooker. It is unlikely that you will need oil as the oxtail will release plenty of its own fat. Remove the meat to a plate. Add the vegetables to the pan and cook until the onions are translucent and the carrot and celery are tender. Add the flour and stir well and cook for a minute or so. Add the madeira or sherry and mix well and then gradually add the stock, stirring to make sure the flour is well combined into the gravy. Add the meat back into the casserole dish, with any juices that may have gathered on the plate. Add the herbs and season generously. Bring to a gentle simmer and then place in a low oven (the simmering oven of the Aga) or into a slow cooker for about eight hours. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before placing in the fridge overnight. Skim off all the solidified fat and, if you wish, remove the meat from the bones. Reheat the stew at a gentle pace until piping hot. Serve in large warmed bowls with lots of bread.
I have called this a hot-pot for more than one reason, it’s a lovely warming one pot dish, but it also has a fresh chilli and my local butcher’s spicy sausages in it, which are indeed spicy, making it a very hot pot indeed. You can of course use any sausage you prefer. It’s an easy and quick supper which is lovely served with purple sprouting as we had it, or with pasta or rice or just some good bread to mop up the tomato-ey juices.
6 sausages (spicy if you like)
1 fresh chilli, deseeded and chopped finely
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped finely
1 small onion, peeled and chopped finely
1 400g tin tomatoes
1 215g tin of butter beans in water, drained
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
Place the sausages in a large pan with a little olive oil over a medium heat and brown all over. Add the onion and cook for a few more minutes until beginning to soften, add the chilli and the garlic and cook for a further two minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the tomatoes, the butter beans and the bay leaf and season with pepper (don’t add the salt yet or it will toughen the beans). Stir to combine the ingredients and then cook over a gentle heat for at least 20 minutes until you have a rich tomato sauce. Add salt to taste just before serving.
If you have used spicy sausage and you find it too hot for your taste buds you can serve plain greek yoghurt alongside or stir in 2 tablespoons of yoghurt just before serving.
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I was inspired to make this because I was watching the Good Food channel (of which I watch far too much I admit!) and Rachel Allen made a version in her Favourite Foods programme which was followed shortly after by Market Kitchen and the chef in the market made a very similar version. I took it as a sign!
I served it with a roast chicken last night and it was good, although it might have been better if I had reduced the tomato sauce a bit more so it was less of a soup and more of a sauce. You can cook it to the consistency that you think you may prefer by just simmering it for longer if you want it more sauce-y than soupy.
You could substitute the chickpeas for butter beans and the kale for spinach or any other Brassica you have in the house.
1 chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
A good-sized chunk of chorizo, cubed (I used about 100g)
1 410g tin of chickpeas in water (no salt added) drained of most of the liquid
1 400g tin of tomatoes
kale ( I used about 100g), shredded
feta cheese to crumble over the top
Heat a little olive oil over a medium heat and fry the chorizo until it begins to leach its golden fat, add the chilli and garlic and fry for another couple of minutes. Add the tomatoes, breaking them up with a wooden spoon, add the chickpeas and a little bit of the water from the tin. Simmer gently for about 20 minutes or longer if you would prefer a thicker consistency. Add the kale and cook for another five minutes until the kale is tender. Scatter cubes of feta over the top and serve with lots of crusty bread to mop up the juices.
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It’s that time of year again, with the nights darker and the days shorter and colder, when we all need more comfort food. There is little more comforting than a plate of stew that has been bubbling slowly away for a long time. I am particularly proud of this one because I have in the past relied on the ubiquitous stock cube for gravies and stews and I am trying to wean myself away from them. I have been making my own stocks when I have bones available from sunday roasts, but last night there was no beef stock left over in the freezer. So instead I browned the meat until caramelized and cooked the onions for longer than I normally would so that they took on a good caramel colour. This proved to provide enough colour and flavour to make a tasty stew using water instead of a stock cube – great progress for me. I was really pleased with the result and it has proved that I don’t need to use a stock cube when I am cooking a stew. The flavour is further enhanced by the vegetables and adding some herbs into the mix.
Feeds two greedy people.
300g (10 oz) shin beef, cubed
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 parsnip, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, peeled and cubed
55 ml (2 fl oz) madeira wine (or you could use any fortified wine)
10 g (½ oz) plain flour
1 tsp mustard powder
1 bay leaf
½ tsp dried oregano or marjoram
½ tsp dried thyme
425 ml (¾ pint) boiling water
salt & pepper to taste
Heat a smear of oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and add cubes of the beef (make sure you don’t crowd the pan or they will steam rather than brown). Allow the cubes to brown for a good few minutes without stirring them, then turn them to brown the other side. You really want gooey bits of beef sticking to the base of the pan and a good colour to develop on the beef. When all of the beef has been browned remove to a plate and add the onion to the pan. Allow it to cook for at least ten minutes until it develops a good caramel colour (it may take longer than this). Add the parsnip and carrot and cook again for another five minutes, add the meat back to the pan of vegetables. Add the flour, mustard powder and herbs and cook for a good few minutes, stirring the pot so that the flour has a chance to cook. Add the madeira and stir well, cooking for a minute or so. Add the water and salt and pepper to taste and turn the heat down to a gentle simmer. Simmer for at least two hours before serving with lots of bread to mop up the gravy. I enjoyed it with a bit of my quince jelly.
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Posted in beef, stew
Tagged beef stew