Braised Oxtail and Caramelised Calves Sweetbreads with Roast Vegetables


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Season to Taste

By Liam Tomlin

Published 2005

  • About


  • 1 × 1.6kg Piece of oxtail
  • 1 × 200g Carrot
  • 200g Piece pancetta, skin removed
  • 2 large Savoy cabbage, leaves blanched and refreshed
  • 750ml Red wine
  • 300ml Port
  • 25ml Vegetable oil
  • 100g Carrot, chopped
  • 100g Onion, chopped
  • 100g Celery, crushed
  • 6 Garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2litre Veal stock
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 2 Fresh bay leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 50ml Clarified butter
  • 18 × 25g Pieces calves sweetbreads from the pancreas, blanched and peeled (basic technique 2)
  • 18 Brussel sprouts, blanched and refreshed
  • 18 Baby carrots, blanched and refreshed
  • 18 Spring onion bulbs, blanched and refreshed
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper


Bone out the oxtail or have the butcher do it for you, saving the bones. The oxtail will weigh about 1.2 kg when boned. Chop the bones into small pieces and set aside until ready to use. Peel the carrot, cut in half lengthways and cut each half into 4 long strips, the full length of the carrot. Slice the pancetta into strips of the same length. Trim-up the Savoy cabbage leaves so that they cover the entire surface of the oxtail.

Pre-heat the oven to 140°C. Lay out the oxtail flat on a work surface and season well with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover the surface of the oxtail with the Savoy cabbage. Lay the carrot and pancetta down the centre of the cabbage and roll up the oxtail tightly to form a long cylinder-shape. Tie tightly with butchers twine, working from one end of the cylinder of oxtail to the other. This will prevent any of the filling from falling out during cooking. Season the outside of the oxtail with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Place the red wine and Port into a heavy-based saucepan and reduce to 500ml over a medium heat. Set aside until ready to use.

In a large cast-iron pan heat the vegetable oil over a medium heat. Add the oxtail and the chopped bones and render down the fat, turning the oxtail and the bones frequently for 10 - 15 minutes until both are nicely browned. As the fat renders down, pour it from the pan. Remove the oxtail and bones from the pan and return the pan to the heat. Add the chopped carrot, onion, celery and crushed garlic and sauté until golden brown. Pour the reduced red wine and Port over the vegetables and deglaze the pan with it.

Transfer the vegetables and alcohol into a large heavy-based pot. Add the roasted oxtail bones, lay the oxtail over them and cover with the veal stock. Return to the heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and skim the surface to remove any scum that floats to the top. Add the thyme, bay leaves and rosemary to the pot, cover with a lid and transfer to the oven. Cook slowly for 3 hours until the oxtail is tender. Carefully lift the oxtail from the stock and place on a tray. Pass the stock through a fine chinois and refrigerate until cold, allowing any fat that floats to the surface to solidify.

When the oxtail is cool enough to handle, use a pair of scissors to remove the string. Roll the oxtail tightly in several layers of cling-film and refrigerate until cold. Remove the fat from the chilled oxtail stock, place into a heavy-based pot and over a medium heat reduce the stock by half until it coats the back of a spoon. Pass through a fine chinois and season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Unwrap the oxtail and carve it into 6 even sized medallions. Place them into the oxtail sauce and over a low heat reheat for 15 minutes.

While the oxtail is reheating prepare the garnish. In a heavy-based cast-iron pan, heat the clarified butter over a medium heat. Lightly season the sweetbreads with salt and freshly ground pepper. Fry for 2 - 3 minutes until brown and crisp, whilst the inside remains moist and creamy. Remove the sweetbreads from the pan and drain. Add the brussel sprouts, carrots and spring onions to the pan and warm through giving them a little colour. Lightly season the vegetables with salt and freshly ground pepper and drain.

Remove the oxtail from the pot and drain well. Once more, pass the sauce through a fine chinois. Place a piece of oxtail in the centre of a warm plate and arrange the sweetbreads and vegetables around it. Spoon the sauce over and around the oxtail, sweetbreads and vegetables.


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