Slow-cooked oxtail with polenta
( SERVES 6 )
There is nothing quite like a steaming pile of creamy polenta to gladden the soul, but this meltingly tender stew also works when served with a mound of mashed potato or a purée of swede and carrot.
|1½ kgs||Oxtail pieces|
|30 ml||Olive oil|
|0||Salt and freshly ground black pepper|
|1 Ltr||Red wine|
|4 medium||Carrots, peeled and sliced|
|6||Star anise pods|
|400 ml||Beef stock|
|200 g||Button mushrooms, sliced|
- Heat the oven to 160C.
- Trim the fat from the oxtails. In a heavy frying pan, heat the oil and brown the oxtail pieces on all sides until nicely caramelised. Transfer the meat to absorbent paper, then season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Pour the wine into the frying pan and bring it to a rapid boil for 5 minutes.
- Slice the garlic, shallots, onion and carrots and place in a deep casserole or roasting dish that can be used on the stove top, then place the oxtails on top. Add the bouquet garni and star anise to the pan. Pour the wine and stock over the top, then bring the contents of the casserole to a simmer on top of the stove.
- Cover the casserole first with baking paper then a piece of tinfoil. Bake in a preheated oven for 2 hours. Remove the dish from the oven, then carefully fold back the tinfoil and baking paper and add the mushrooms. Cover again and return the dish to the oven for another 45 minutes.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the tails from the stock. Allow them to cool, then carefully pick the meat from the bones. Strain the stock and you can either discard the vegetables or chop them into smaller pieces to be served with the oxtail. Discard the bouquet garni and star anise.
- Pour the cooking stock into a clean saucepan and cook until the volume is reduced by half and a rich, glossy sauce has formed. Return the oxtail pieces and vegetables to the sauce, taste for seasoning, then serve with the polenta.
To prepare polenta:
- In a deep saucepan bring the stock (or use water) to a rapid boil. Pour in a thin stream of polenta, whisking all the time until completely blended. Reduce the heat to the barest simmer, then cover with a lid. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon and cook for a minimum of 45 minutes but preferably 2 hours.
- Check the polenta frequently and do not worry if a skin forms around the saucepan - it washes off.
- Once the polenta has become thick and creamy and is starting to come away from the sides, stir in the butter and grated parmesan. Season lightly with salt and pepper, then spoon into individual bowls.
Serve this straight from the saucepan as "wet" polenta. This is especially delicious under casseroles. Any leftovers can be set in a tray in the fridge. For an easy breakfast the next morning, cut the polenta into pieces and quickly pan fry in olive oil until crisp. Top with a fried egg and some chilli sauce.