Cabernet Braised Oxtail

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“Your cooking what?” Those were the words that greeted me when I announced to my family my wonderful find. “But…But…I stammered I couldn’t resist, the butcher only had one left.” Rolling her eyes my wife simply stated that I was a sucker and nobody in their right mind would pay eight euros a kilo for a bunch of useless tail bones containing no meat. Sucker I may be, but eight euros was a steal for the succulent marrow contained within those bones. I won’t mention my son’s opinion on the matter, but safe to say that as I began to cook, the inciting smells and aromas slowly softened their minds just like oxtail itself. When the time came to actually taste, I wasn’t a sucker anymore. After 4 hours in the oven, the meat was almost black and super tender and the sauce was velvety and robust in flavour. Served with a few potatoes, even my son couldn’t resist.

What you need:

  • 1 oxtail cut into pieces at the joints
  • 1+ bottles of red wine (I used cabernet, but you can choose your own poison)
  • 2 celery stalks (for the sauce)
  • 3 carrots (for the sauce)
  • 1 medium onion quartered (for the sauce)
  • 1 leek stalk (for the sauce)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (for the sauce)
  • 1 Rosemary stalk (for the sauce)
  • 1 tsp crushed coriander seeds (for the sauce)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 125g butter
  • 2 tbsp flour (optional)
  • 1 kilo baby potatoes (for the side)
  • 3-4 carrots cut into bite sized pieces (for the side)
  • 1celery stalk cut into bite sized pieces (for the side)
  • 2 small leek stalks cut into bite sized pieces (for the side)

How it’s done:

  • Brown the oxtail pieces the best you can in a little oil and transfer into a roasting pan.
  • Add the quartered onion, carrots, celery, leek rosemary, coriander and the garlic (all items labeled sauce)
  • Pour your bottle of wine over the top (topping up with more if needed) and place the whole lot in the oven set at 180C (350F)
  • Braise in the oven for about 3 hours checking often to make sure the meat is submerged. Yep really, don’t skimp on the time, it is essential in order for the marrow to permeate the entire dish.
  • At the three hour mark, fish out the sauce vegetables and replace them with the potatoes and the chopped vegetables, put the pan back into the oven and cook until everything is nice and tender. (About another hour)
  • By this time the wine will be transformed into an inky black liquid thickened by the marrow from the bones. If it still a little too thin for your liking you can make a basic roux with the butter and flour and add the cooking liquid to it to thicken it.
  • One final step is required before serving, melt the butter into the sauce to add an extra layer of richness, trust me, don’t skip this.
  • Serve in deep plates with a few slices of crusty bread to mop up all the leftover sauce.
  • Enjoy.

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