Oxtail is just that — a collection of vertebrae with a thin covering of meat. It is, however, perhaps the most succulent meat in the world. There is so much connective tissue in relation to the amount of red meat that when slowly cooked with aromatic vegetables, herbs and sherry, you have a rich gelatinous jus. In Spain they use the tail of toro — yes, a bull. In Australia it is more likely to be yearling steer. The flavour will be slightly lighter but, to misquote Shakespeare, ‘Oxtail by any other name would taste just as sweet’.
Cut away any excess fat from the oxtail, especially from the larger pieces. Leave the silver skin on, as this cooks down during the long cooking process.
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium–high heat and brown the oxtail in two batches. Cook for 3–4 minutes each side to ensure the meat is evenly browned and season each side with fine sea salt. Once all the meat has been browned, remove and set aside. Add the onion, carrot, garlic and bay leaves to the pan. Cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low–medium and cook gently for 15–20 minutes until the vegetables have browned. Add the tomato and cook for another 15 minutes until pulpy.
Add the fino sherry and stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up any cooked-on bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the meat to the pan with the peppercorns and cloves. Cover well with water and simmer for 3–4 hours, depending on the age of the oxtail. The meat is ready when it comes away easily from the bone. Spoon off any fat sitting on the surface of the sauce. If necessary, remove the meat from the pan and reduce the sauce over high heat until it thickens to a light coating consistency. Return the meat to the sauce, heat for several minutes on low then serve, sprinkled with parsley.
© 2007 All rights reserved. Published by Murdoch Books.