Nigel Slater introduces this recipe by saying how he ‘can’t imagine ever getting four oxtail-loving people around the table at the same time.’ Not exactly encouraging words.
Matt’s choice for this month’s WILDCARD is ‘A Casserole of Oxtail and Prunes’ from The Kitchen Diaries II. Well ok, it was the end of September, and it’s now the start of December. You’ll let me off though right? I could start with a long list of reasons for why I’ve been seemingly neglecting my little blog, but I wont bore you. All you need to know is that this recipe, whether cooked in September, December or whenever, is one worth talking about. And eating.
Neither of us had tried oxtail before, and that’s what these WILDCARD choices are all about; pushing us out of our comfort zone. Though when I asked Matt why he chose it he simply said “I dunno why, I can’t remember”, so maybe he’s not in it for the same pursuit of culinary enlightenment as I am. It was probably just the first page that opened while he was watching Storage Hunters on the telly.
I started by browning the pieces of oxtail in a single layer in a casserole. I love when meat caramelises like that. It makes you want to dig in straight away, even though you know it’s still raw and therefore a pretty stupid idea.
When golden on all sides, the pieces of meat were removed to make way for two chopped onions to be cooked gently and softened. The meat was then added back to the pan with strips of orange peel, freshly squeezed orange juice, whole prunes, juniper berries and aromatic red wine. Seasoned, it went into the oven for nearly 2.5 hours.
It emerged, dark, sticky and glistening.
I served the oxtail with creamy mashed potatoes and green beans, and it was incredible. The prunes and red wine had combined to create the most wonderful sweet and sticky sauce. The meat just fell apart. The closet thing I’ve had to it before would be ox cheeks, but with a texture closer to that of a slow cooked lamb shank.
I’m the kind of person who normally attempts to eat ribs with a knife and fork, but even I couldn’t resist getting my hands stuck in to get every last morsel of meat off the bones. I can’t imagine why it would be so difficult to find more oxtail-loving people. Everyone should try this dish. It was so simple, and absolutely delicious.
Here’s a link to the recipe online: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/oct/17/nigel-slater-autumn-recipes