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Saturday, October 14, 2006






OXTAIL: A SATURDAY STEW

Much maligned, your Oxtail but dirt cheap and one of the tastiest bits of the cow you are ever likely to find.

On Wednesday, while standing with my nose pressed against the window of James Elliott, Master Butcher, as I am want to do during my lunch break, I saw a huge tray of both big and small bones and was transported back to the days when my welsh granny used to make thick unctuous stews using these offcuts.

So, I wandered in and bought three large and three small pieces ( enough, the butcher told me for three people – silly, silly man ) and put them by for tonight’s supper.

Last night, after my blow out at Locanda Locatelli, I could not face eating, but could certainly face cooking. The chunks were dredged in flour and fried off in butter until golden brown and then placed in a casserole. I did the same with some onions, garlic and carrots and added them to the pot with a half bottle of white wine, lots of sage, oregano and thyme and then cooked the stew for nearly two hours on a low heat. After it cooled I left it in the fridge over night.

This evening, I scooped off the fat and then cooked the stew again for a further two hours before removing the meat to rest, straining the sauce and reducing with red wine and a flour and butter mix.

Even though I say so myself, one of the tastiest things I have cooked in a long, long time and well served by a baked sweet potato, some puree cauliflower with lots of nutmeg and a dense fruity Italian red.

A classic British dish that seems to have been all but forgotten, probably because it is time consuming to prepare. I suspect, however, that, put it on a menu and give it a fancy name, it would go down a storm.

I also suspect I shall be making it again very soon.
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