Alan Rosenthal’s rich oxtail stew

The perfect winter warmer

The first time I made oxtail stew I didn’t have enough wine in the house, so I thought, ‘What the hell, I’ll add some beer as well and see what happens’. The result was fantastic and I’ve been cooking it that way ever since.

A Gary Rhodes recipe introduced me to the idea of adding peeled and chopped tomatoes as well as some freshly cooked vegetables to the sieved and reduced sauce. This not only gives the stew a lighter touch but also adds colour and texture.

When buying ox tails, try to get the thick end of the tails – these have more meat and less bone so are more satisfying. Oxtail is surprisingly fatty, so trim off as much fat as possible from the pieces, getting in with your knife as best you can.

2kg oxtails, trimmed of fat and cut into 4–5cm pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Ultimate-One-Pot-Dishes-Jacket-Cover3 tbsp olive oil
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
Half a leek, roughly chopped
2 onions, roughly chopped
3 sprigs of thyme
3 bay leaves
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
500ml red wine
500ml beer
1 litre beef stock
400g tin chopped tomatoes

To finish the stew:
4 tomatoes
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 leek, finely chopped, white section only
2 celery sticks, finely chopped

To serve:
Chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 160ºC/325ºF/Fan 150ºC/gas mark 3. Season the oxtail with salt and black pepper. Heat the oil in a large, flameproof casserole dish that has a lid (it needs to be able to fit 2 litres of liquid plus lots of veg and oxtails, so the bigger the better) and brown the oxtails in a couple of batches on all sides. You’ll need to spend 2–3 minutes on each side to get a good colour.

Transfer each batch to a bowl and set aside and keep warm. Add the carrots, celery, leek and onions to the pan with the thyme and bay leaves. Gently cook these for 10–12 minutes on a moderate heat until the onions have softened and are starting to brown at the edges.

Now add the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes. Pour in the wine, beer, stock, chopped tomatoes and some black pepper. Don’t add any salt yet as the sauce will be reduced later which will intensify all the flavours – we’ll only add salt at the end.

Now return the browned oxtail and any collected juices to the pan. Bring the stew to simmering point and pop the dish in the oven with the lid on for 3.⁄₂ hours.

The oxtail will now be extremely tender; remove the pieces carefully from the pan and set aside on a plate. Sieve the sauce into a bowl using the back of a wooden spoon to push through all the liquid you can from the cooked vegetables.

045_UOP_oxtail_stew-fullDiscard the drained vegetables then return the sieved liquid to the dish and reduce it until it’s the consistency of single cream and rich in flavour. This may take up to 20 minutes. Now add a little salt if you feel it needs it.

Meanwhile, with the point of a knife, make a cross at the base of each tomato. Put the tomatoes in a heatproof bowl and pour over boiling water until they are submerged, then leave them for 1 minute. Drain and cool them under cold water. The skins should now slip off.

Cut the tomatoes into quarters and remove the seeds, then chop the flesh into small pieces. Put all the finely chopped vegetables into a small saucepan. Add 2 tablespoons of water and cook on high heat, with a lid on, for 3–4 minutes until the vegetables have softened slightly.

Once the meaty sauce has fully reduced and you’re about to serve the dish, add the cooked vegetables and the oxtails back to the sauce to heat through. Then gently mix in the peeled and chopped tomatoes.

Serve with mashed potato and sprinkle with a little chopped parsley.

Tip–You can make everything a day ahead up until the point of cooking the diced vegetables and preparing the tomatoes. Before serving, simply warm the stew through and then stir in the veg.

Extracted from Ultimate One-Pot Dishes (Ebury Press, trade paperback £9.99)
Photography: Jonathan Gregson

About Sam Harrington-Lowe
As the managing editor Sam is responsible for all the Title publications and works diligently to develop the brand and support relationships with all partners and clients. She runs things with her dedicated PA Ms Alice Pickle Pug