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Oxtail; Braised with Guinness - Recipe

This dish virtually cooks itself, and reheats easily if the ideal of eating oxtail doesn't appeal to all the family, and you have to spread servings over a few days.

It's best to buy oxtail from your butcher, rather than a supermarket - as the latter generally palm you off with too many very thin pieces which have little meat. It's worth having a word with your butcher and asking him to save larger pieces for you. You really need two pieces per person.

Like many casseroles, this dish is further improved if made the day before and gently reheated. This also allows you to remove any surplus fat that comes to the surface.

Ingredients

For 4 main courses:

3 lbs / 1.3kilos Oxtail, cut into manageable segments by your butcher
1 tablespoon (15ml) Vegetable Oil
30g / 1oz Butter
1 big Onion, peeled & chopped-parsley
2 big Carrots, peeled & chopped
1 Leek, the dark green section removed, the remainder, chopped and carefully washed to remove any grit
2 sticks (not heads) Celery, chopped-parsley
4 medium cloves of Garlic, peeled & chopped
1 rounded teaspoon (5ml) Dried Mixed Herbs - or 1 Bouquet Garni for Meat from www.gourmetherbs.co.uk (http://www.gourmetherbs.co.uk/)
1 litre / 2 pints Guinness
300ml / ½ Beef Stock (which can be made with ½ Stock Cube)
2 tablespoons (30ml) Tomato Purée
3 heaped teaspoons (20ml) Cornflour - dissolved in a little cold water
1-2 teaspoons (5-10ml) Sugar (optional)

Method

1. Remove any surplus fat from the oxtail pieces.

2. Heat half the butter and oil in a wide-based frying pan over a low heat.

3. Sweat the chopped vegetables until the onions become translucent, turning them over occasionally - this should take 5-8 minutes in all.

4. Transfer these to a casserole with a fitting lid.

5. Increase the heat under the frying pan to medium and add the remaining butter & oil.

6. Seal the oxtail pieces until they are brown on all sides. Add these to the casserole.

7. Add the mixed herbs/bouquet garni to the casserole, followed by the tomato purée, Guinness & stock.

8. Stir well, cover, and cook in the oven for 2 hours.

9. Remove from the oven, and taste - if you find the Guinness a little too bitter, add the optional sugar.

10. Add the disolved cornflour and stir well in.

11. Return to the oven and cook for a further 30 minutes.

Serve - or keep & reheat (see above). Buttery mashed potato makes an excellent accompaniment.

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