Friday, 6 May 2016

Oxtail ragu

It's all old-school at Cook Castle NZ today. We're going back to my childhood. My mum regularly made oxtail when we were kids, circa 1968-1981. Her method was to boil the living soul out of it in a pressure cooker and serve it with some mashed spuds and green beans. I remember dad raving on about marrow and heartiness, but when you're 11, food is just that thing you have to abide until such time as you can be "excused".

I've never been brave enough to get a pressure cooker. That's because once, during the time-span nominated above, my mother didn't wait the requisite time period for the pressure cooker to de-pressurise. The result being that whatever she was making exploded across the walls and ceiling of the kitchen, and somehow my brothers and I had to clean it up. Like it was our fault.

It's put me off them for life.

I left home at 18, and this is the first time I've cooked oxtail. So you do the math as to how long it's been between drinks. But the Coles-equivalent over here, New World, had some big fat bits that screamed 1975 and Molly Meldrum and Countdown so I bought them and got straight onto Jamie Oliver, figuring that out of all the chefs I love, he would be the safest bet.

So here's what Jamie and I did with the oxtail. You should do it too.

Serves heaps


This is what oxtail looks like when raw
2 kg oxtails, in chunks
Salt and pepper
Olive oil or rice bran oil
350 ml white wine (thereabouts)
2 carrots, chopped quite small
2 onions, chopped quite small
2 celery stalks, chopped quite small
2 bay leaves (to be honest I used 4)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon each, dried sage, dried thyme, dried basil
Pinch of dried chilli flakes
2 tins crushed tomatoes
To serve: Gnocchi, grated parmesan, chopped parsley


Heat oven to about 200.

Heat up your fry pan, season with oxtails with the salt and pepper, and get them really browned off.
This is what my browned oxtail looked like

Pop them into an oven-proof dish. I used the one I make lasagne in because it is massive.

Next, into that lovely messy frypan, pour the wine. Boil it up for a while, then transfer it to a separate dish.

Pour a little oil to the pan and add the vegies, bay leaves, herbs and garic. Stir, stir, stir until it all softens and plays happily.

Pour this mixture over the oxtail, then pour over the wine liquid, then add enough water to pretty much cover the oxtail.

These are my vegies cooking

Cover tightly with alfoil, or if you're using another dish that has a lid, pop on the lid. Into the oven for at least two hours, but if you can stretch it out, make it three.

Take it out of the oven, let it cool so you can handle it, then strip all the meat from the bones. This is a disgusting job but, like making rissoles, it's so much better if you use your hands.

Once you've done that, tip that lovely goodness back into something that can go on the stove, or if you've used a dish that is both oven and stove friendly, skip this step. The liquid should be quite thick but if it's not, tip some of it out and discard, but keep the vegies.

Get it all hot again, then add two tins of tomatoes. Bring it to the boil and simmer for at least 30 minutes. Add the meat and simmer for another 15 or so minutes. You want it to get all thick and rich, like Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.

Serve on top of gnocchi with sprinkle liberally with grated parmesean, chopped parsley and plenty of salt and pepper. Eat it while you watch "That 70s Show" or "The Six Million Dollar Man".

This is Jamie's pic of his oxtail ragu, from his website