If you haven't tried oxtail stew yet then you need to! It is my all-time favourite stew! If you have already tried it, then you will know what I am talking about. My gran, Oumie always made us oxtail stew when we used to visit her during our school holidays. I could smell it cooking and knew exactly what we were having. We used to polish off every last bit, including sucking out all of the bone marrow!
Amazingly oxtail stew was brought to South Africa by the British... I say amazingly as most of my British friends have never heard of it and get all squeamish at the thought of it. Oxtail used to be really cheap and readily available, but that is not really the case anymore. It is still readily available in South Africa, but in both SA and Britain it is a bit more pricey now. I have occasionally seen it at a supermarket in the UK, but if not we get it from our local butcher. Being the tail of cattle it tends to be a bony, tough, fatty meat which either needs to be slow cooked for a few hours or cooked in a pressure cooker, but once done it is so rewarding. I use a pressure cooker as this is what Oumie always used and it cooks it in a quarter of the time.
Oxtail Stew (Serves 4)
1 Oxtail (Approx. 1.5kg)
1 Tbsp Light olive oil
2-3 Carrots, sliced
2 Large Potatoes, cut into big chunks
2 Tomatoes, skinned and chopped
1 Onion, peeled and diced
1 Clove of Garlic, crushed
500ml Beef Stock
1 Bay Leaf
4 Whole Cloves
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp Cornflour
Pomegranate seeds and chopped parsley to decorate (Optional)
Using a heavy-based saucepan or a pressure cooker, brown the oxtail in the oil. You may need to do this in batches as you don't want to overcrowd them. Once done, add all of the oxtail back to the pan.
Add the onion, garlic, bay leaf, cloves, peppercorns, stock and some salt and pepper. Top up with enough water so that the oxtail is just covered.
If using a saucepan, cover and simmer over a moderate heat for 3-4 hours, topping up the water as necessary. If using a pressure cooker, cook at medium pressure for 1 hour.
Test with a fork (Oxtail is ready when a knife can easily cut through the meat. It is not ready if the meat will not come away from the bone). If it is not ready, add water if needed and cook/ steam for longer.
Once ready, add your carrots, potatoes and tomatoes and cook on the stove for 25 mins or in the pressure cooker for 5 mins until the veg is soft.
Remove your meat and veg to a separate bowl and simmer the liquid until it is reduced by half. Mix your cornflour with a little water to make a smooth paste. Add this to the liquid and stir while the sauce thickens. Add your meat and veg back in and heat through.
Dish up. If using, decorate with pomegranate and parsley.
Note: As Oxtail can be very fatty, I like to cook it the day before, allow to cool and then scrape any fat off the top before reheating.
Have you tried it before? Do you cook it any other way? If you have never tried it before and give it a go, I would love to hear how you get on!