This dish is more than just traditional British, in fact it has become my signature dish. I find it exciting to cook and even more exciting to eat. You can pick up the tails and eat them with your hands and just dip your bread in the sauce to collect all the tastes. The tails are also very good served with creamy Mashed Potatoes.

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Ingredients

  • 4 oxtails, trimmed of fat
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 100 g (4 oz) beef dripping
  • 225 g (8 oz) carrots, chopped
  • 225 g (8 oz) onions, chopped
  • 225 g (8 oz) celery sticks, chopped
  • 225 g (8 oz) leeks, chopped
  • 450 g (1 lb) tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 600 ml (1 pint) red wine
  • 2.25 litres (4 pints) Veal Stock or bought alternative

For the Garnish

  • 1 large carrot, finely diced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 celery sticks, finely diced
  • 1 leek, finely diced
  • 6 tomatoes, skinned, seeded and diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Method

For this recipe, the veal stock should not have been reduced to a sauce consistency, as this tends to become too strong when braising the tails. Oxtails can be used in place of veal bones when making the stock for extra beef flavour.

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6.

Firstly, separate the trimmed tails between the joints and season with salt and pepper. In a large pan, fry the tails in the dripping until brown on all sides, then drain in a colander. Fry the chopped carrot, onion, celery and leek in the same pan, collecting all the residue from the tails. Add the chopped tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf and garlic and continue to cook for a few minutes. Place the tails in a large braising pan with the vegetables. Pour the red wine into the pan and boil to reduce until almost dry. Add some of the stock then pour on to the meat in the braising pan and cover with the remaining stock. Bring the tails to a simmer and braise in the pre-heated oven for 1½–2 hours until the meat is tender.

Lift the pieces of meat from the sauce and keep to one side. Push the sauce through a sieve into a pan, then boil to reduce it, skimming off all impurities, to a good sauce consistency.

While the sauce is reducing, quickly cook the diced garnish carrot, onion, celery and leek in a tablespoon of water until soft. When the sauce is ready, add the tails and vegetable garnish and simmer until the tails are warmed through. Add the diced tomato and spoon into hot bowls, allowing three or four oxtail pieces per portion. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

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