Braised oxtail with red wine and prunes
- A challenge
- November 2014
- Serves 6-8
- Hands-on time 50 min, simmering time 3½-4 hours, plus chilling
Warm your cockles with Debbie Major’s comforting braised oxtail. Double cooking the oxtail is a good way to extract most of the fat in the final dish.
- 26.5g fat (5.3g saturated)
- 34.3g (21.4g sugars)
For 8 servings
- 1 large celery stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 large fresh parsley sprigs
- 4 large fresh thyme sprigs
- 2 British oxtails (about 1kg each)
- 70g plain flour
- 4 tbsp sunflower oil
- 75g unsalted butter
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 fat garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 x 5cm cinnamon sticks
- 4 tbsp brandy
- 600ml good quality beef stock
- 300ml red wine
- 150ml ruby port
- 2 tbsp redcurrant jelly
- 350g small shallots, peeled
- 2 celery sticks, sliced
- 350g carrots, sliced
- 350g leeks, sliced
- 225g ‘no need to soak’ dried prunes (agen if possible)
- 50g fresh white breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh curly leaf parsley
- Make a bouquet garni by cutting the celery stick in half, sandwiching the herbs between the 2 pieces and tying everything into a tight bundle with kitchen string. Set aside.
- Trim any excess fat from the oxtail, then toss the meat in 50g of the flour, well seasoned with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large, flameproof casserole and fry the oxtail in 2 batches until well browned all over. Remove to a plate. Wipe the pan clean.
- Add another 1 tbsp of the oil, 25g of the butter and the onion to the casserole and cook, stirring, for about 7 minutes until well browned.Add the garlic and cinnamon and fry for 2 minutes more. Add the brandy and simmer for 1 minute, stir in any flour left over from tossing the meat, then cook for 1 minute.
- Gradually stir in the beef stock, red wine, port and redcurrant jelly and bring to the boil, stirring. Return the oxtail to the casserole with the bouquet garni, season with ½ tsp salt and plenty of black pepper, cover and leave to simmer gently for 3-3½ hours, turning the oxtail pieces from time to time, until tender. Remove from the heat and leave to cool, then chill in the fridge overnight.
- The next day, scrape the fat off the top of the oxtail (and discard), then bring the braise to a gentle simmer on the stove. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large pan, add the shallots and fry for 2-3 minutes, turning them now and then, until golden brown all over.
- Add 15g of the remaining butter, the celery, carrots and leeks and fry, stirring, for 3 minutes. Stir the buttered veg into the oxtail with the prunes and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Spoon into a sealable container and freeze until required (see make ahead).
- To serve, remove the oxtail from the freezer and defrost overnight. Put in a large flameproof casserole and bring to a simmer. If you can find them, remove and discard the cinnamon sticks. Make a beurre manié (see know-how) by kneading together 20g of the remaining butter and the remaining 20g flour. Stir into the oxtail and simmer for 5 minutes. Heat the remaining 15g butter in a frying pan, add the breadcrumbs and fry gently for 3-4 minutes until crisp. Season lightly, then stir in the parsley. Sprinkle on the casserole and serve with mashed or baked potatoes.
The braise will keep, covered, in the fridge for up to 3 days. Or freeze at the end of step 5 for up to 3 months.
Beurre manié (‘kneaded butter’) is a mix of equal quantities of butter and flour. It’s stirred into casseroles, stews and sauces to thicken them. As it melts, the butter releases the flour gradually, so no lumps appear.
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