Oxtail with cider, prunes and beans


I was thrilled to discover that such a cheap cut of meat produced a dish so rich in flavour, and delighted to find that it tasted even better if made conveniently ahead and reheated the following day. Serve with mashed potato, which is lovely with the juices, and a green salad.


  • 3 large onions
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower or groundnut oil
  • about 1 kg oxtail pieces
  • 100 g pitted prunes
  • 450 ml dry cider
  • coarsely grated rind and juice of 1 large orange
  • 1 rounded teaspoon juniper berries
  • 3-4 large cloves garlic
  • 400 g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 400 g tin haricot beans, drained
  • about 10 sage leaves
  • sea salt, black pepper


Heat the oven to 240°C/Gas 9. Peel and halve the onions, then slice across. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and fry the oxtail pieces, in batches, until well browned all over. Using a slotted spatula, transfer the oxtail to a large casserole dish. Now add the onions to the frying pan and fry until soft and browned, then add to the casserole.

Cut the prunes in half and add them to the casserole with the cider, grated orange rind and juice, and the juniper berries. Season with salt and plenty of coarsely ground black pepper. Put the lid on.

Cook the casserole on the centre shelf of the oven for about 20 minutes until the liquid is bubbling. Then lower the oven setting to 140°C/Gas 1 and cook for a further 2½ hours or until the meat is very soft and starting to come away from the bones.

Now peel the garlic, slice the cloves thinly crossways and add to the casserole with the chopped tomatoes, haricot beans and whole sage leaves. Return to the oven for another 45 minutes. Leave until cold and then refrigerate or keep in a cold larder until the next day.

The next day, spoon off the solidified fat from the top of the stew, put the lid back on and reheat the stew in a hot oven at 240°C/Gas 9 for 20-30 minutes until bubbling. Adjust the seasoning before serving if necessary.