Shake your Tailfeather (Tailmeat, rather)

1 Feb

Here you can see a picture of me holding some Oxtail in the area approximate to where I reckon my coccyx is. Let me know if I’m right or wrong. I was imagining, if you will, what it might be like to have a massive meaty tail. It hurt my arms a bit.

This is a post about the most accessible of the offal cuts. The one that has no challenging texture, needs no funny preparation and has a delicious beefy taste. If you’ve not cooked oxtail in your life, get on it like a bonnet, because a) it is delicious and b) the price has definitely risen in the last year. I think oxtail is the new pork belly and pretty soon we’ll be talking about it all the time.

Oxtail is available in a lot of supermarkets – I got mine from Morrisons – and is basically cow tail. So you could make a pie from it and then you’d get Cow Pie. But you could do that with any beef. I’m not much of a Beano reader as you may have guessed.

I find oxtail works best if you make it in a slow cooker. Not only are slow cookers dead easy to use, but a cut like oxtail needs a long slow braise to tenderise the meat and to make darned sure that all the deliciousness of marrow comes out of the bones.

I’ve cooked oxtail several times –  from Oxtail tomato something to Jamaican oxtail (No, it didn’t include Lilt) – this time because Daz hadn’t made oxtail before we used a very nice Jamie Oliver recipe which junipered up the oxtail. A few weeks on, I’ve lost the recipe, but found it on this blog! I’ve made my own changes though.

1 jointed oxtail; 1 de-stringed and chopped celery stick; 1 chopped onion; 1 peeled and chopped carrot; 1 leek chopped; 1/2 bottle cheap red wine; 1 tablespoon crushed fennel seeds; 1 tablespoon crushed juniper berries; 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; 1 teaspoon crushed chillies; 1 tablespoon tomato puree; 2 x 400g tins of tomatoes; 1 teaspoon dried sage; 1 teaspoon dried oregano; salt and pepper

The procedure for cooking is pretty simple and can be done pretty much the same if you’re slow cookering or casseroling in the oven.

Heat a bit of oil in a pan, brown the oxtail. Add all the vegetables to the pot and sweat them down with the browning oxtail. Get a pestle and mortar and crush all the herbs, berries and seeds together. Add that flavour mix to the vege-tail (*boom boom*). Add the wine, tomatoes and tomato puree. Mix it all together – or as Jamie would say “whack it all about” and then cover and either slow-cook for 4 hours on High or cook in the oven in a Heat-Proof casserole at 160C for 3 hours. It will go all lovely and melty and delicious. 

We decided to make dumplings to accompany the stew. Parsley dumplings at that, but I made the fatal error of not topping up the liquid in the casserole so it got a bit too sticky and maybe a little burnt. If you do add dumplings, make sure you add a tomato can of extra water to the mix, so that the dumplings have something to puff them up – you could use stock too I guess. I followed the instructions on the side of the suet packet and added 2 teaspoons dried parsley to the flour. Bob’s your uncle!


2 Responses to “Shake your Tailfeather (Tailmeat, rather)”

  1. Rock Salt February 1, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

    I think you’re spot on – oxtail is the new pork belly. Another non-challenging offal is beef heart, don’t know if you’ve tried that? I got some in Morrison’s.

  2. burnyourbones February 6, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    Cow pie is from the Dandy!

    Gareth made oxtail once and it was all gritty and lumpy and seemed to have lots of tiny bones in it. I have no idea how he made this happen, since you don’t seem to have had this problem at all.

    Ommmmnom dumplings. I haven’t had them for years and they are so good.

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