I remember the days when oxtail was regarded as offal and not on the shopping list at the butchery, although Mother was one of the clever ones and presented it often as a warming winter meal. When it is offered at a special price (about to expire!), I buy a few and make a big pot to see us through a couple of meals. As the main attraction of oxtail is the flavour, rather than the quantity of meat, it lends itself to bulking up the meal with lots of root vegetables to absorb the juices, making it go a long way.
Wash the oxtail pieces very well, then remove all visible fat. Enough remains to ensure maximum flavour and succulence without the unpalatable greasiness. I don’t find it necessary to brown the meat – the shape of the pieces make it awkward – but I always splash boiling water into the pot to seal it and add the liquid portion once all ingredients have been added.
A tip: I am a great fan of the pressure cooker. Time-saving and tenderising. Some dishes don’t reveal their full potential without it.
1kg oxtail, well trimmed of all visible fat
2 onions, sliced
2 cloves crushed garlic
4 large carrots, chunky style
3 sticks chopped celery
A good splash of olive oil
1 tablespoon whole allspice
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons beef stock powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon Bovril
Sauté the onion and olive oil on medium heat briefly, then add meat and stir until slightly browned (if it’s a tight squeeze, don’t fuss too much – see water tip above). Add the remaining ingredients, stir well and add 2 cups boiling water. Pressure cook for 45 minutes (or ordinary pot for 3 hours). Release pressure, check that sufficient liquid, then add quartered potatoes, peas or any vegetables you enjoy. Pressure cook for another 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with rice and devour with joy.