Today I thought I'd try something completely different. I always focus my blogging efforts on sewing, crafting, thrifting, and homemaking. Sometimes there's a dash of vintage styling thrown in the mix, as these are the things I'm most passionate about. But, I do enjoy spending time in the kitchen too, cooking and preparing meals for my family. Now, I am no Nigella, and my souffles are more sink-fles...(bare with me!), but I thought I'd share one of my favourite recipes with you. I have cooked this meal for our family for some time now, and it's what I would call 'hearty comfort food'. The plates are always licked clean when I serve this up, and the kids and hubby always show a lot of appreciation when this dish hit their plates. It must be a winner then, hey? So, here it is. Oxtail, cooked in Port. I use Port, as it gives a really rich, glossy sweetness to the meat, but you can use red wine instead if you prefer. Or, if cooking with alcohol is not your thing, you can omit it, but you will be losing a lot of the yumminess with it!
1-1.3kg/3lb oxtail, cut into chunky pieces (ask your butcher to do this for you, or sometimes the supermarket supply it pre-packed)
3 tbsp plain flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3–4 tbsp sunflower oil/olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
3 carrots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 medium celery stalks, diced
4–5 sprigs fresh thyme (or ½ tsp dried thyme)
2 bay leaves
250ml Port/300ml red wine
500ml/18fl oz beef stock
2 tbsp tomato purée
1.Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2.
2.Wash the oxtail pieces and pat dry with kitchen paper. Trim off as much excess fat as possible. Put the flour in a freezer bag and season well with salt and pepper. Put half the oxtail pieces into the seasoned flour, toss well to coat then put aside on a plate. Repeat with the remaining oxtail pieces.
3.Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Brown the oxtail over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, turning every now and then, until dark brown all over. You may need to add extra oil if the pan looks dry at any point during the browning step. Put the browned oxtail into a flameproof casserole dish. (You may need to do this in batches.)
4.Return the frying pan to a low heat and add the onions, garlic, carrots and celery. Add a little extra oil if necessary. Cook gently for 10 minutes, or until softened and lightly browned, stirring occasionally.
5.Tip the vegetables on top of the beef and add the thyme and bay leaves. Stir in the port, beef stock and tomato purée. Season with salt and pepper, put the casserole on the heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover the casserole dish with a lid and cook in the centre of the oven for 3 hours. Stir after 1½ hours, turning the oxtail in the sauce.
6.After 3 hours, the meat should be falling off the bones and the sauce should be thick. Remove the casserole dish from the oven and transfer the oxtail pieces to a plate, set aside and keep warm.
7.Skim any fat that has pooled on the surface of the sauce.
I find that if you trim all the visible fat off at the start, you won't need to do this!
8.Divide the oxtail pieces between six warmed plates and spoon over the sauce. Serve with mashed potato and fresh vegetables.
This dish makes the most of this very economical meat, and is very easy to prepare. And the results: YUMMY!