I’m starting 2020 at the end of an animal with Oxtail Stew. There is more than one beginning and end with this dish. I started preparing it on 31st as 2019 came to a close, so that it could cool fully and reheat today to intensify the flavours. It just needed a few extra hours slow cooking, making for an easy yet comforting dinner on New Year’s Day.

Stews appear in some of the earliest written cookbooks. Oxtail has been a star of many with worldwide twists from the Caribbean to Korea. In Britain you’ll find just as many variations, but the fundamentals of any recipe are slow cooking and heaps of vegetables. I’ve opted for leeks, parsnips and carrots and kept it simple.

Comparatively, Oxtail is an economical cut; however you can be looking at somewhere between £8.50 and £10.50 per kg. As nose to tail eating has become more popular, oxtail is no longer the cheap ‘off cut’ it has been considered in the past.

One of the many attractions of Oxtail Stew is the collagen that’s released during the slow cooking over a low heat. Gelatinous at its best it may help smooth out the wrinkles and protect our joints from the stress and strains of everyday living. What better way to start the year than with a hearty and nutrient dense bowl of comfort food that also promises health and beauty benefits too.

Ingredients

1kg Oxtail (ask your butcher to chop it into pieces)
2 Leeks, sliced
2 Parsnips, chopped into chunks
3 Carrots, chopped into chunks
2 Onions, finely chopped
3 Garlic cloves, crushed
500 ml good quality homemade stock (I used the Turkey stock from Christmas)
500 ml vegetable boullion
Few sprigs of Thyme
3 Bay leaves
1 tbs flour
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper

Method

Set oven to 140 degrees. In a large casserole, brown the oxtails in the olive oil and then set aside. Soften the onions in the casserole for a few minutes and then add the garlic and leeks. Cook for 5 minutes until soft. Sprinkle over the flour, stir through and cook for a minute before stirring in the stock. Add the oxtail back to the pan with the parsnips, carrots and herbs. Season well and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook in the oven for 3 hours. Remove and cool overnight. The next day reheat the stew and cooked for a further 2 hours on 140 degrees. Remove from the oven and pick any remaining meat from the bones adding back to the stew. Discard the bones. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving with a choice of jacket sweet potatoes, nutty brown rice or hunks of sourdough bread to soak up the delicious juices. Or all three.