Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Falling Cloudberries

By Tessa Kiros

Published 2004

  • About

Ask your butcher to cut up the oxtail for you unless you have a professional cleaver at home (in which case, cut through the natural ridges of the oxtail to make pieces of about 2.5 cm/1 inch). This is lovely served with the sweet potatoes in orange juice or just plain mashed potatoes. You could also use osso buco instead of the oxtail.


  • 2 kg (4 lb 8 oz) oxtail, cut into 2.5 cm (1 inch) pieces
  • 125 g (1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 30 g (1 oz) butter
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 250 ml (1 cup) red wine
  • 2 sprigs of sage
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 parsley stalks


Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the oxtail and boil for about 15 minutes, skimming away the scum with a slotted spoon. Drain and rinse the oxtail, then pat dry. Put the flour on a flat plate and lightly coat the oxtail on all sides.

Heat half the oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the oxtail until golden on all sides. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper as you turn the pieces over. Fry in batches if necessary, adding extra oil if needed, to ensure the flour doesn’t burn. Put the cooked oxtail in a casserole dish. Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F/Gas 3).

Wipe out the frying pan with kitchen paper and heat the remaining oil and the butter. Add all the vegetables and a little salt and pepper and sauté for about 10 minutes, until softened. Add the wine and cook uncovered for a little longer until it has almost all evaporated. Add the vegetables and any cooking juices to the dish and add the sage, bay leaves, parsley, about 1.25 litres (5 cups) of hot water and a little more salt and pepper. Cover and put in the oven.

After 1 hour, add up to a litre or so of hot water (depending on how much has been absorbed) and continue cooking for another 2½ hours. Add another couple of cupfuls of water and cook for a final 30–40 minutes. It’s important not to add all the water at the beginning or you’ll end up with a soup.

You should have a meltingly soft dish: the meat should come away from the bone very easily, and there should be some thickened sauce with the vegetables to serve with the meat.