We’re prepared to eat steaks and other identifiable cuts of beef, as well as the ubiquitous stewing steak where you can’t always be sure what cuts are in it, but many people are funny about the cow’s tail. There’s only a certain amount of meat on it but what there is is really tasty. And when you consider that the best beef stock is made by simmering beef bones, making an oxtail braise is always going to taste good.
So, go on, give this a go. Oxtail’s cheap and easily available; particularly from proper butchers.
This recipe makes a great warming winter meal for two or, if you double up the vegetables in it, a meal for four.
One oxtail – which should already be cut into 5cm lengths by your butcher
One tablespoon of plain flour
A half teaspoon of English mustard powder
A quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper
Freshly-ground black pepper
One tablespoon of oil for sealing the meat
Two sticks of celery – cut into 3cm lengths
Two onions – peeled and cut into chunks
Two carrots – cut into chunks
Three cloves of garlic – peeled
Two bay leaves
Ten juniper berries
A few strips of orange peel
A bottle of red wine
Pre-heat the oven to 160°C (or a little less if a fan oven), gas mark 3
Place the flour, mustard powder, cayenne pepper and some black pepper into a big plastic bag (I use an old carrier bag for this – one without holes in it!). Give it a shake to mix and then put the oxtail pieces in and give everything a good shake to coat the meat.
Heat a roasting tray on top of the cooker and add the oil and butter. Fry the oxtail pieces in this; turning them to colour on all sides. Then add the celery, onion, carrot and garlic cloves and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally to give the vegetables a little colour here and there. Add the bay leaves, juniper berries and orange peel along with the red wine. Give a gentle stir to combine all the ingredients.
Bring to a simmer and cover loosely with foil or a layer of greaseproof paper on the surface of the vegetables and meat and place in the oven for at least two hours, turning the meat halfway through, until the meat is falling off the bones.
Fabulous served with mashed potatoes to soak up the sauce.