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Oxtail stew

Oxtail Stew

I thought I would try Heston Blumethal’s Version of Oxtail Stew, which takes a bit of time to prepare, but then again it was totally worth it as the end result was really great. Oh and cost of this lovely dish? HK$ 40 per portion only. 😉 There you go, if you cant afford Lobster, just cook this dish which I would say is better then eating Lobster!

Oxtail Stew taken with Point and Shoot Camera

Oxtail Stew taken with Point and Shoot Camera

Here is his Recipe:


Serves 6 

2 star anise

5 cloves

10 allspice berries

Zest of 1 orange

1 tsp cracked black pepper

6 carrots

175g unsalted butter

200ml-250ml groundnut oil

6 medium onions

4 large leeks

1 head of celery

1 head of garlic

100g tomato purée

350g white closed-cap button mushrooms

6-8 ripe tomatoes, sliced in half

100ml sherry vinegar

200ml white wine

3.5 kg oxtail, jointed (make sure that you are not given lots of the small tail-end pieces)

2 tbsp plain flour

Salt and pepper

200ml port

1.5l red wine

1 bouquet garni (consisting of 1 bunch thyme, 12 fresh bay leaves and 5 sprigs of rosemary, tied together for easy removal)

15g sugar (unrefined if possible)

150ml red wine vinegar 


Place the spices, orange zest and black pepper in muslin, and tie into a bag (this is not essential, but it means you won’t end up chewing on a peppercorn). Peel the carrots, top and tail them, and cut them in half lengthways, then in half again widthways. Peel and quarter the onions. 

Place a large, heavy-bottomed casserole over a medium heat and sauté the carrots in 50g of the butter with 50ml of the oil. When they begin to caramelise (after about 30 minutes), add the onions and continue cooking until these, too, have become golden brown. 

Chop the leeks and celery, then slice the head of garlic in half horizontally. Add these ingredients to the pan. Cook gently for another 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato purée and cook for 5-10 minutes or until the raw tomato smell disappears. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside. 

Finely slice the mushrooms and sauté them, in a separate pan, in 75g of the remaining butter until they have released all their liquid and are nicely caramelised. Drain the excess fat, then add them to the vegetable mixture. 

Pour a film of groundnut oil over the bottom of a large, heavy-bottomed pan that will comfortably hold the tomatoes in one layer. Add the tomatoes, cut side down, place the pan over a medium heat and leave the tomatoes to brown — don’t move them at all. When you see dark-brown edges forming on the outside of the tomatoes, carefully pour in the sherry vinegar and stand back. When all the vinegar has boiled off, pour in the white wine, bring to the boil and, with a flat-bottomed wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of the pan. 

When the wine has reduced and you are left with a syrupy mush, scrape it onto the other vegetables. 

Toss the oxtail in the flour, making sure you shake off the excess, and season. Brown the meat in some more of the groundnut oil, in a heavy-bottomed pan over a high heat. 

Do this in 2 or 3 batches, so that each piece of meat touches the bottom of the pan and gets a nice, even caramelisation. If necessary, change the oil so you aren’t cooking the meat in burnt oil. 

Add the browned meat to the vegetable mixture. Leave the browning pan on the heat, pour in the port, bring to the boil and, as soon as the liquid boils, set it alight to reduce acidity. Reduce by half, then add the red wine and repeat the process, once again reducing by half. Be aware that the alcohol will be difficult to ignite unless it is boiling. Make sure you scrape the bottom of the pan with your flat-ended spatula to loosen any bits stuck to the bottom. 

Add the spice muslin and the bouquet garni, then boil the liquid for 5 minutes. 

Set it aside and leave to cool to room temperature. Once it has cooled, pour it over the meat and vegetables. The meat needs to be covered by about 1cm of liquid. If there is not enough liquid for this, add some cold water. Leave the dish to marinate for 24 hours in a cool place. 

After marination, transfer everything to a large, clean, heavy-bottomed casserole and place over a high heat. Bring to the boil, then skim off any impurities that rise to the surface. Reduce the heat so that the liquid is at a gentle simmer and cook at this temperature, uncovered, for 7 hours. Keep the level of the liquid topped up with cold water so that it is always just covering the meat. 

About 3-4 hours into the cooking process, remove the vegetables. First, carefully lift out the pieces of oxtail and set them aside, then pour the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Press down on the contents in the sieve to extract the juices. Keep the bouquet garni, but discard everything else. Pass the liquid once more through a fine sieve. 

Place the oxtail pieces back in the pan with the bouquet garni and cover with the sieved liquid. Top up with water if necessary and continue cooking for the remainder of the 7-hour period, until the meat is wonderfully tender. Many books will tell you that when you are simmering for this length of time, you should regularly skim the fat from the surface of the liquid. I think this is unnecessary. Fat holds flavour, and so will add to the overall richness of the stew. It is better to remove the fat towards the end of the preparation time. 

Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool. Leave the meat to cool down in the liquid: remove it too soon and it will dry out. Reserve about 150ml of the stewing liquid, then reduce the rest over a medium-high heat until you are left with about 400ml. 

In a smaller, heavy-bottomed saucepan, cook the sugar over a high heat until it begins to melt, then carefully pour in the red wine vinegar. Reduce this liquid to a syrup and add the 400ml of cooking liquid, pouring it in through a fine sieve. Bring back up to the boil, skim and reduce until you have your desired sauce consistency. Now whisk in a couple of knobs of cold butter. 

Meanwhile, reheat the oxtail.  Transfer to a serving dish, pour over the sauce and serve

Oxtail Stew Taken with Point and Shoot Camera

Oxtail Stew Taken with Point and Shoot Camera


5 responses

  1. ‘scuse me being a food ignoramus, but aren’t those rather nice looking potatoes in the photo? Your instructions don’t indicate how they got there!

    March 15, 2009 at 7:22 am

  2. cosmopolitanblog

    They are mashed Potatoes and I reckoned, perhaps wrongly, but I reckoned that anyone knew how to make those.

    March 15, 2009 at 7:34 am

  3. Sally

    It looks absolutely fantastic! Sure my hubby would love this!

    Can I use this same recipe for ox tendon as well?

    March 15, 2009 at 3:53 pm

  4. No! In the pan floating on the top. Aren’t those some sort of roast potatoes? Maybe they’re mushrooms, but the recipe said to slice them, so I’m confused.

    March 15, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    • cosmopolitanblog

      yes they are mushrooms

      March 16, 2009 at 12:49 am

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