26 January 2009
Which is what you do to a bullock to turn it into an ox.
The Year of the Ox in the Chinese calendar kicks off today and - while we're on the subject of cutting off appendages - here's the best way of making oxtail stew, courtesy of Roald Dahl:
"Despite the fact that I am a very ordinary cook indeed, my oxtail stew, every time I make it, is greeted with exclamations of relish and sometimes even loud applause. By some fluke rather than by any real skill it always seems to come out right"
Here's what you do.
While you're castrating your bull, chop off its tall as well.
Or buy an oxtail from your butcher. If you ask him nicely, he might even chop it up for you.
Allow 1 oxtail for 3 people.
Trim off any fat or gristle (Don't bother browning them in fat before boiling - doesn't make a blind bit of difference.)
Layer the bottom of a big saucepan with the oxtail segments, cover with water, season with salt and peeper, sling in some stock cubes and fresh bay leaves, sage, thyme and rosemary, bring to the boil and simmer for about 4 hours until the meat's almost falling off the bone. Keep topped up with water.
Let it cool over night and next day de-fat the surface.
Boil some carrots and purée them. This is your thickener - no flour, no Mondamin, just puréed carrots
Bring the stew back to the boil, sling in (chopped) whichever vegetables are seasonal - last week, it was leek, echalottes, parsnip, carrots, swede and celeriac - and simmer until they're cooked
Just before serving, mix in the carrot purée.
Serve with dumplings, gnocci, polenta or crusty bread. Baguette or ciabatta are excellent.
Red wine is a must.
Have a bowl on the table for the bones