Apart from cooked sliced tongue, it’s quite hard to find offal that will go in sandwiches. You can’t even find a ready-made sandwich with offal in (unless you’re counting sausage, but then they invariably have ketchup in which I just can’t stomach). Kidney sammich, anyone? To remedy this I slow-cooked a lovely oxtail with the express purpose of using it cold. Oh yes. You can’t keep me in that box. I’m not Schroedinger’s Cat.
Here is my lovely ox tail from Walsingham Farm Shop – a present from my Mum – and you should definitely visit if you’re in Norfolk. I meant to take a picture of the label (which specifies some details about the beast that provided the tail), but forgot – however there is a great page about their suppliers on the website. This sort of transparency in origin is what was emphasised in my abattoir visit. Yet I do remember, growing up in Lincolnshire, it being perfectly normal to know who farmed the animals you were eating (and you probably wouldn’t trust a butcher who couldn’t tell you).* I decided to add some flavours and chose black cardoman, tamarind and mugwort. I shouldn’t have put the mugwort in as the stronger flavours swallowed it up …
Then you cover it all with water and I slow cooked it on high for about six hours. The next step was to separate the meat from the stock, and then the bones from the meat. You will have a jug of beefy, taily deliciousness and a bowl of juicy, beefy meat.
I put both of them in the fridge and waited to use them.
The first thing I wanted to use was the delicious stock, so I had a stab at making a beef noodle soup. Of course, all the fat had risen to the top of the stock, so I scraped a lot of it off, used some to fry my peppers and put the rest away for later use.
It had set into a jelly (because of the lovely bones) – with a nice spicy layer at the bottom of thicker gravy. It all goes in! I really wanted to taste the stock, so kept the rest quite simple. I fried some onion and peppers, then added some rehydrated seaweed, the stock and the noodles, then boiled it all together so the noodles were done. Added some spinach at the end, bob’s your uncle. I put a blob of harissa in the middle too.
A lovely meal, from a jug of stock and some cupboard bits and bats.
If you don’t think about making stock already – please do try it out. You can ask your butcher for some bones, or use leftover ones (a perfect example is an eaten around chicken carcass). All I then do is boil it for a number of hours until all the bones come away from each other (I don’t know if that’s a professional way to judge it, but it appears to work for me). You can add veg and things, but I tend to be a stock purist. Sieve it to get the bones n ting out, then you can either use it within a week, or freeze it to use at your leisure. Risotto totally is best with homemade stock. And it’s really good for you – lots of trace elements are kept in bones, so real stock can help boost your immune system! If it sounds like a faff, kept your eye out for reduced fresh stock in the supermarket, as you can freeze it ready for risotto o clock!
I can hear you asking, what else did she make with the ox tail? Stay tuned for part 2!
*I am aware of the quotation marks around “normal for Lincolnshire” – this can be seen to include tracing six generations back with strangers (you never know who you are related to) and every tenth house having a surplus veg stall outside.