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Friday 25 January 2013

Recipe: Oxtail & Sweet Potato Mash w/ Red Cabbage & Beetroot in a Port Reduction

by Simon Fernandez of ferdiesfoodlab

Oxtail w/ Bread and Butter Crisps, Sweet Potato Mash & Port Jus

When the weather is starting to get cold as well as raining all the time, it's nice to have something warming to feed you guests. Using a few ingredients that are in season, this recipe gives you a dinner packed with flavour! Oxtail is one of those inexpensive cuts that a lot people don't register at all in the supermarket - probably because it's already cut up into segments and tied into a sort of circular arrangement that doesn't look much like a tail! But, when slowly cooked for about two and half hours, it becomes sticky and soft and falls off the bone - it's simply gorgeous! And, if you don't fancy sweet potato mash, this will go equally well with roast potatoes!
If you've never tried oxtail then give this a go . . .  see variations for super quick version.

Can't beat a glass of wine whilst making Sunday Lunch - best way to relax ever . .  humming away in the kitchen to the radio! Aaaaah

ingredients (serves 4-6)
for the oxtail & prune purée

2.5kg oxtail
750g (10) med onions (peeled & cut into 6ths)
100ml extra virgin olive oil
20g thyme (bouquet garni)
8 cloves garlic (cut into 1/4's lengthways)
750ml red wine
75g ~20 prunes (stoned)
3L chicken stock
plain flour for dusting
cinnamon powder
10 dates (stoned and chopped)

for the mushrooms
280g mixed mushrooms (shitake, shimeji, enoki, oyster, for example)
40g butter

for the sweet potato mash

Browning before braising (Maillard reaction)
1kg sweet potatoes (peeled and diced)
300ml double cream (reduced by half)
50g butter (cut into 1cm cubes)
1 limes (juiced)
1L chicken stock (enough to cover the potatoes by 1cm)

for the red cabbage & beetroot
600g red cabbage (sliced)
2 beetroots (peeled, then 1 cm cubes)
300ml water
600ml tawny port
50g salted butter (small cubes)

for the bread and butter crisps
a bit of old French stick (cut into 2mm slices)
butter (melted)

for the garnish

5g chives (finely chopped)
baby chard leaves

special equipment
rubber gloves for beetroot
stick blender

oxtail & prune purée
Trim all the excess fat off the larger pieces of oxtail.
Season and coat the oxtail in flour and fry off in a pan until golden brown, then add to the boiling pot.
Oxtail usually comes held together with a piece of butcher's string.
You can use this to make a bouquet garni with the thyme: take the thyme, fold it in half, tie it with the string and add it to the pot.

Bouquet garni made with string from oxtail!!

Add the onions, prunes, red wine, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and pour in enough chicken stock to cover the meat by 1cm.

Bring to the boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer, leaving the lid off.
Top up with chicken stock occasionally to keep the water level above the meat.

After 90mins remove the prunes with a slotted spoon and 2/3 of the onions. Place them along with the dates in a small pot, add a pinch of cinnamon and blend with a stick blender until smooth. Keep on a low heat, allow to thicken to a purée.

The oxtail should be ready after about 2.5 hours. When it is, remove it with a slotted spoon into a tray and keep warm.
Pass the stock through a sieve and return it to the pot, reduce until it is a thick sauce.

Melt the butter and sauté the mixed mushrooms together until golden brown. Season with a touch of salt.

Boil the sweet potatoes until they are fully cooked but not falling apart. They're done when the tip of a knife enters with little resistance.
Drain them in a colander. (Reserve the liquid for the base of a soup) Let the potatoes cool a little. While they do, prepare the cream:

Add the cream to the pot and bring to the boil; lower the heat a little and continue to boil until the cream has reduced by half. As soon as it has, add the butter.
Once the butter has melted, add the potatoes and the lime juice over the top.
Season and mash the potatoes until smooth. Set aside until required.

Removing the alcohol.

red cabbage & beetroot in port reduction
Add the cabbage and the water to a pot with a lid and bring to the boil.
After 3 mins add the beetroot cubes and replace the lid.
After 2 mins more remove the lid and allow the liquid to evaporate until there is almost none left.
In a separate small pot (without a lid) bring the port to the boil and reduce by 3/4 to 150ml. 

Cabbage braise & cover in a reduced port jus!!

I find easiest way to know how reduced it with scales, then oncereduced to a third by viscosity with a spoon. (don't be a dumb ass and use plastic scales - use metal heatproof ones) >>>

Bread Crisps or Bread Tuiles - whatever you want to call them they're tastey!

bread and butter crisps
Take some old French stick cut into thin (2mm) slices and brush with melted butter. Bake in the oven at 180C for 4-8min, the time will depend on whether your oven is fan assisted or not. Remove when golden and crisp.

what could go wrong? (TIPS)
My reduction burnt! TIP: Watch anything you are reducing like a hawk: to begin with, it will seem like it will never reduce, but the more it reduces, the faster it goes, and it will evaporate completely and burn if you don't keep an eye on it in the final stages!

I burnt my kitchen down! TIP: When reducing alcoholic liquids, be careful. Always keep the lid at hand so that if they catch fire, you can simply put the lid on to put it out. (or let it burn off carefully!) DO NOT blow on it to try and put it out, you will engulf your head in flames! Use a lid to extinguish the flame: Bring the lid in horizontally from the side and cover the pot.

My mash is watery : ( TIP: Don't over cook your spuds / sweet potatoes - if they start to fall apart they are no use for mash. Make sure they are properly drained, leaving them until no more steam is coming off them.

My mash has come out like glue! TIP: Never use a stick blender or food processor to make mash since it creates a starchy gloop, resembling wall paper paste!! Use a masher or a potato ricer.

to serve
Add the butter to the hot port reduction, mix in and pour this into the cabbage and beetroot, reserving a little to dress the plate.
Plate the oxtails and cabbage in layers and pipe (or spoon) on the mash, surround with mushrooms and onions.
Season the mash with a little black pepper and garnish with a bread and butter crisp.
Add a little of the prune puree, pour the sticky oxtail sauce over the oxtail and dress the surrounds with the remainder of the port.
Serve immediately.

For a low hassle, great comfort food winter dinner: Don't remove anything from the oxtail except the bouquet garni, dish up the oxtail with the onion and prune sauce, serve with the cabbage and roast potatoes! Result: A no-nonsense great tasting dinner!

Pick the meat and use it and the sauce to make: Prune and Oxtail Pie

Oxtail is also a great component for a Pho Soup

Alternative presentaion - Choux buns are filled with sweet potato mash - Surprise!!

The finished product! Honestly! Oxtail, roasties and peas is much easier but it was fun to make!
thinking ahead
The mash can be made in the morning and stored in the fridge in a plastic container so it can be microwaved just before serving! The oxtail, cabbage and the port reduction can be left in the pot and reheated. Add the butter to the port sauce last minute so it doesn't split. and the bread crisps will happily last a day in an airtight container!! So it's basically an assembly job for dinner!! Shall we go for a couple of pints and have it when we get back!!! ; )

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