As the evenings get darker and a kind of semi-hibernation in the warmth of the house begins, there is something particularly pleasurable about food that has been cooked long and slowly, filling the rooms with a comforting aroma.
Oxtail is not a traditional ingredient for a cassoulet but its rich flavour is absorbed beautifully by the beans and I find it one of the best winter treats. Serve with carrots, and a simple green salad if you like.
Soak the beans in plenty of cold water for several hours or overnight. Preheat the
Meanwhile, drain the beans, put them in a large pan of unsalted water and boil for 40-60 minutes, until just soft but not yet breaking up. Peel the garlic and slice the cloves across thinly. After the oxtail has been cooking for 1½ hours, add the beans, sliced garlic and tinned tomatoes. Cover again and put back in the oven for another 2½-3 hours, until the meat is falling from the bones. Before serving, taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
© 1997 Josceline Dimbleby. All rights reserved.