Oxtail Ragout

I love experimenting in the kitchen. Whether I’m playing with a new spice mix or cooking a vegetable that’s new to me, unusual ingredients keep my kitchen imagination alive! The same goes for meat. When we have it, I like to do something special with it! The butcher at the local farmer’s market sometimes surprises me with unusual types of meat (unusual for the UK home cook…). It’s a good thing I love to try new things in the kitchen! I’ve tackled wild boar, rabbit, venison; and this week it was the turn of oxtail. I’d bought it spur of the moment, as they don’t stock that sort of thing every week, and hid it away in the freezer waiting for a free Sunday to do some proper slow cooking. It’s time had most definitely come!

I browsed various online recipes for this dish, but none of them got me that excited, so I’ve struck out on my own with this one. It makes a lovely rich, filling and comforting ragout that is perfect served with polenta (which is what we happened to have with it that night), pappardelle pasta, mashed potato, or a mountain of green vegetables like braised kale. It takes a while to cook, but you can always go off elsewhere and do other things while it’s bubbling away in the oven. I actually left my boyfriend to look after it while I met up with friends at a street festival , ha!). And the extra cooking time is SO worth it for tender, melt in your mouth meat and veggies. I hope you enjoy!

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Serves 2 greedy people for dinner – so greedy that I didn’t remember to take a photo until I’d eaten half of the polenta; so I’m sorry for the messy plate… just shows how delicious it was I guess!

You will need:

2 tbsp oil for frying (I used sunflower)

2 oxtail joints (no need to de-bone)

4 tbsp plain flour

4 small carrots (roughly chopped)

1 red and 1 yellow onion (roughly chopped)

2 garlic cloves (squashed and cut in half)

3 green peppers (roughly chopped)

Beef stock (250ml at a guess)

Red wine (250ml at a guess)

2 bay leaves

Pepper

Salt

5 large tomatoes (quartered)

Red wine vinegar

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Heat the oil in a casserole dish to a medium-high heat. Then coat the oxtail in plain flour with a pinch of salt and pepper. When the oil is hot, brown the oxtail on all sides and set aside.

To the casserole dish, add the roughly chopped carrots, onions, garlic and peppers to fry off. Then put the oxtail back into the dish along with any juices, and add beef stock and red wine in equal quantities to cover the meat and vegetables. Add 2 bay leaves, salt and pepper and pop into the preheated oven.

After 45 minutes in the oven, remove the casserole dish, give it a stir and add the tomatoes and place it back into the oven. Cook everything for a further 3 hours, checking the dish periodically to stir and add more liquid if needed, or until the meat falls off the bone comfortably when lightly pulled and most of the liquid has dissolved.

Take it out of the oven, stir and taste. Add more salt and pepper if needed. I added a dash of red wine vinegar to lift the taste slightly. You can remove the oxtail bones at this stage (makes for a more comfortable dining experience!) and serve with a side of choice.

Do you enjoy cooking with unusual ingredients? Have you ever used oxtail before? I hope this recipe inspires you to give it a try!

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