Oxtail, Celeriac and Carrots
Given a few hours of gentle simmering, nuggets of unpromising-looking meat and sinew melt into a deeply satisfying stew – ideal for a spirit-lifting supper. The ingredients list looks long but the recipe is undemanding. It’s best to start the day before so that you have time to chill the partially cooked dish and remove the layer of solidified fat. If you don’t have time for this, just blot up the liquid fat with wads of paper towels.
You will need a large frying pan and an ovenproof casserole (see Cook’s
oxtail 1 large weighing about 1.5kg, cut crossways into thick 5-cm chunks
rapeseed oil 3–4 tbsp
onions 2, diced
celery stalks 2, destringed and diced
sage leaves small sprig, roughly chopped
fresh bay leaf 2, shredded
rosemary chopped leaves from 1 sprig
carrots 2, diced
celeriac ½, diced
garlic cloves 2, finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper
tomato purée 2 tbsp
red wine 400ml
hot beef stock 800ml–1 litre, preferably from a pouch or home-made
flat leaf parsley chopped, to garnish
for the seasoned flour:
plain flour 3 tbsp
sea salt 1½ tsp
freshly ground black pepper ½ tsp
mustard powder ½ tsp
vegetables to finish:
celeriac ½, cut into 2-cm chunks
carrots 3 medium, halved lengthways and thickly sliced diagonally
1) Trim any thick chunks of fat from the oxtail. Dredge the meat in the seasoned flour. Heat a large high-sided frying pan (see Cook’s notes below) over medium-high heat. Add 3 tablespoons of the oil and brown the oxtail pieces all over, turning with tongs. Remove from the pan and set aside.
2) Reduce the heat to medium. Add the diced onions and celery, plus the sage, bay leaf and rosemary. Fry for about 5 minutes until just beginning to soften. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil if the vegetables start to look dry.
3) Next stir in the carrots, celeriac and garlic. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and leave to cook for 10 minutes, stirring now and then, until soft but not brown.
4) While the veg are cooking, preheat the oven to 150°C/gas 2.
5) Stir in the tomato purée and cook for a minute. Pour in 300ml of the wine, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 3–4 minutes.
6) Tip the contents of the pan into a 4-litre casserole (see Cook’s note below). Add the oxtail pieces, stirring to mix. Pour in the hot stock – enough to cover by 2–3 centimetres. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and put the casserole in the preheated oven. Leave to simmer gently for 2½–3 hours, stirring now and again, until the meat pulls easily from the bone.
7) Tip the contents of the casserole into a roomy bowl and leave to cool completely. Once cold, put the bowl in the fridge for a few hours until the fat solidifies into a layer.
8) Discard the layer of fat and pick out the oxtail chunks. Scrape off the jellied sauce and solid bits of veg, and put this mixture into the casserole. Set aside
9) Gently reheat the sauce and solid bits. When this has melted to a liquid, tip into a food processor and whiz to a purée. Push through a sieve (see Cook’s note below) and return to the casserole. Add the oxtail pieces and remaining 100ml of wine, stirring to mix. Cover with a lid and reheat gently. Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
10) Meanwhile, blanch or steam the uncooked celeriac and carrots together for 5 minutes until just beginning to soften.
11) Add the vegetables to the casserole. Simmer over medium heat for about 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Check the seasoning and adjust as necessary. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.
||It’s best to start frying the oxtail in pan large enough to take the pieces comfortably in a single layer. If they’re crammed together they will steam rather than browning. My pan is 28cm diameter with 5cm sides. If you don’t have a big pan, fry the meat a few pieces at a time.
||You will also need an ovenproof casserole that can hold 4 litres. Mine is 25cm diameter and 12cm high.
||It’s not strictly necessary to sieve the mixture, but it makes for a smooth detritus-free sauce that sets off the freshly cooked veg added at the end.
Recipe adapted from The Farm Shop Cookbook by Christine McFadden, published by Absolute Press/Bloomsbury
© Christine McFadden, January 2021