Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries is both an entertaining read and a fabulous cookery book. Join me as I journey through the year cooking along with him...
Do buy the book from Amazon or your local book store. It's not just the recipes, its the gentle writing style and the importance of food provenance which strike a chord with me.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Week 8 - Oxtail Stew and Treacle Tart

It's good stick-to-your-ribs fare this week!  We start with braised oxtail with mustard and mash (p63).

I had some trouble buying oxtail - of course you are tripping over it in the fresh meat section in the supermarkets when you don't want it, but even a trip to the normally reliable Morrisons didn't come up trumps.  So I went up to the butchers instead - oddly enough, we don't have a butcher in the town (literally at the end of the road), so although I'd love keep things local and patronise the small businessman, it involves getting the car out, or over four quid on the bus, or getting the bike out, which I'm less inclined to do in winter.  Anyway.

At the butchers, I was shown a tray of wonderful oxtail and asked the butcher's advice as to how many pieces to go in a stew to feed four.  He bagged four lovely pieces up, handed the bag over and asked for £8.80.  Oh.

At least you can look at all the individually cling film wrapped joints in the supermarket and spend some time choosing, and do all your muttering of 'blimey - I'm not paying that much!' in the privacy of your own trolley. As opposed to being told a price which you can either accept, challenge, or dither with a queue forming behind you and ask for the bag to be opened again and a bit taken out as it is more than you thought it would be.

Did I say what was going through my mind?  'Oh dear, Mr Butcher - are you sure?  I thought that oxtail was a cheap cut of meat, but nearly £9 is rather more I wanted to pay for a midweek stew'.


I made the world's smallest consumer protest, however, by saying, 'I was going to buy some sausages too, but I think that I'll leave it for now', as I handed over my tenner.

So back in the kitchen, the oxtail goes in a bag with flour, ground chilli and dry mustard powder.  Once it's coated in the seasoned flour, it's browned in a casserole dish.  Fish them out an set aside and put chopped onions, carrot, celery, garlic and mushrooms over a low heat to soften.  Put the oxtail back, as tomato puree, bay leaves, thyme and a bottle of 'ballsy red wine' - Mr S's words, not mine.  Bring to a simmer then put a lid on and but in a low oven for ages.

Once quite tender, strain off the gravy, cool overnight and remove the fat.  Add the gravy back to the stew and warm through, stirring in some grain and dijon mustard, and chopped parsley.  Serve with mash.

For pudding, it's treacle tart (p65).  Once I had the knack of the pastry base, and blind baked that, it was easy peasy to add breadcrumbs, syrup and lemon juice.  Whizz filling together and put in the pastry case, cook in a medium oven for half an hour.

Serve with ice cream and a smile. Yum.

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