This week we have something to warm your cockles – an oxtail stew with good old-fashioned dumplings.
The whole purpose of a stew is to use up the cuts of meat that can’t be cooked in a short time or they would toughen up. By subjecting the meat to a lower heat over a longer period, you break it down.
What could have been as tough as old boots becomes soft, delicious meat.
The dish has an added advantage because it can be prepared a few days in advance, and then gently reheated before serving.
In fact, like a lot of stews, a period of rest followed by reheating helps to develop the flavours. And you can make it in larger quantities and freeze it for those cold and dreary days.
Oxtail is literally the tail of cattle. It’s normally around 1-2kg in weight and is cut into smaller pieces for sale.
It’s a gelatine-rich meat, which is usually slow-cooked as part of a stew or braised. It’s also a traditional stock base for soup.
Although preparations have involved hours of slow cooking in the past, modern methods usually take a shortcut by using a pressure cooker.
It’s a popular dish in South America, West Africa, China, Spain and Indonesia. In Korean cuisine, a soup made with oxtail is called kkori gomtang.
And finally, a little update on Restaurant 27. The cheese trolley is operational and has received a fantastic reception.
Kevin Bingham is the chef patron of Restaurant 27 at Southsea. Call (023) 9287 6272.
OXTAIL STEW WITH DUMPLINGS
Two prepared oxtails (Buckwells)
One large chopped onion
Three chopped carrots
Two chopped sticks of celery
Sprig of thyme
Two bay leaves
One litre of beef stock
Dusting of flour
Two star anise
Small bottle of Guinness
4oz self-raising flour
Half a teaspoon of grated horseradish
1. To make the dumplings, place the suet, horseradish and flour in a bowl. Add a little water to form a soft dough. Set aside.
2. Place a pan over a medium heat and add a splash of olive oil.
3. Lightly flour the oxtail and fry until brown all over.
4. Drain off any excess oil and add chopped vegetables, herbs, star anise, seasoning and the Guinness. Cook for about five minutes on a low heat.
5. Add the beef stock and bring to a simmer.
6. When simmering, turn the heat down low and cook for approximately three to four hours with the lid ajar (add a touch of water if necessary while cooking).
7. When cooked, remove the lid and add the dough balls, which need to be about one inch wide, to completely cover the top
8. Place the lid back on and cook for a further 20 minutes until the dumplings are cooked.
9. Leave to stand and then serve.