Oxtail is a lesser used cut and its name is perhaps off-putting to some, but it yields a meat that is rich and full of flavour. It will always need a long cooking time in a well-seasoned stock, a job that Tomato and Balsamic Ketchup is ideal for, with its concentrated tomato flavour, sweetness and acidity from the balsamic vinegar and the blend of aromatic spices that pair perfectly. Making the oxtail into croquettes is rewarding, but can be time consuming, so the braise could be used to go with pappardelle pasta, soft creamy polenta or a jacket potato instead.
5kg beef oxtail on the bone
salt and pepper
2 onions, peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 large sprig of rosemary, bay leaf and thyme (optional)
200ml red wine
8 tbsp Tomato and Balsamic Ketchup
1 litre of fresh chicken stock or 1 chicken stock cube diluted with 1 litre water
120g plain flour
100g panko breadcrumbs
1 litre sunflower oil, for deep frying
1 tbsp Wholegrain Mustard
6 tbsp Greek yoghurt
6 tbsp mayonnaise
Season the oxtail generously with salt and pepper. Place a large pan or casserole dish on a high heat and when hot, add the extra virgin olive oil and then the meat and brown all over. You might need to do this in two batches depending on the size of the pieces of oxtails.
Remove the oxtail then add the onions and garlic and fry over a medium to high heat until soft, sweet and caramelised (about 10-12 minutes) turning down the heat if they begin to darken too much. Scrape off the browned parts from the base of the pan. If you are using them, add the chopped thyme, bay and rosemary.
Add the red wine and allow to reduce by two thirds.
Add the ketchup and bring to a simmer then return the oxtail to the pan, along with any juices that have collected. Add the stock, bring up to a simmer then cover with baking paper and a lid and cook at a gentle simmer for at least 2 hours, or place in the oven at 150C. If cooking on the stove stir now and again to prevent any sticking. Check after 2 hours; it should be falling off the bone but if not keep cooking until the meat is easily separated from the bone.
Once cooked, you can either allow to cool then place in the fridge to allow the fat on the top to separate, or you can remove the oxtail and allow the liquid to settle then use a ladle to skim off as much fat as possible. Return the cooking liquid to the heat and reduce it to around a quarter of its volume. Pull the meat from the bones and shred between your fingers.
To thicken the braising liquid, make a roux by melting the butter in a medium pan then adding 20g flour and stir to combine. Gradually add the braising liquid, whisking all the time to prevent lumps forming, then bring up to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add the thickened stock to the shredded oxtail and mix thoroughly. Taste and add more salt if you think it needs it. If you have used a stock cube, then it will need less or perhaps none.
Pour the mix into a baking tray or dish lined with cling film then chill in the fridge till firm. Once set, you can shape the mix into balls or cut into cubes or rectangles.
To coat the oxtail, have 3 bowls or trays set out and add 100g flour to the first one. In the second, mix 2 eggs and the milk and beat till well combined and in the third, place the breadcrumbs. In batches of 4, dust the oxtail with flour then shake off the excess, then dip them in the egg and finally dip them in the breadcrumbs. Do this to all the croquettes then repeat so that they all have 2 layers. It’s a good idea to use a spoon or fork for each bowl so that your hands don’t get covered with the coating.
When ready to cook, place the sunflower oil in a pan or deep fat fryer. You want the temperature of the oil to be 170C, so if heating the oil in a pan, be careful and never leave it unattended. Fry the croquettes in batches until they are golden brown in colour. If you can see some of the filling starting to seep through, then remove from the fryer. Place on kitchen paper to soak up excess oil.
To make the dip, combine the Wholegrain Mustard, mayonnaise and yogurt and mix until completely combined.