Sunday, 23 November 2008

Braised oxtail with polenta and gremolata

You could certainly argue that oxtail is up there with belly pork as one of the big guns in the sensation that is the slow food movement. I'd actually never cooked it before, but this seemed the right way to cook something like this, and with the polenta it becomes an unbelievably hearty supper. The gremolata really gives it a zip, cutting through the richness of the meat. Savoy cabbage with fennel would make a good accompaniment.

Serves 4

For the oxtail
8 hearty chunks of oxtail
Plain flour
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely diced
2 sticks celery, finely diced
1 clove garlic, sliced
200ml red wine
600ml hot beef or chicken stock
A bay leaf
A handful of rosemary
For the gremolata
50 g flat leaf parsley
The zest of a lemon
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
For the polenta
200g quick cook polenta
800ml water
40g grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 170C.

Pat the oxtail with flour and season generously. Heat a little oil in a casserole or large saucepan. Brown the meat for a minute or two on each side, this will aid the intense richness of the sauce that is so vital. Remove the meat and set aside, then add the vegetables and stir for 5 minutes until lightly caramelised. Add the wine and stir, scraping up all the meat juices from the pan. Simmer for a minute then add the herbs and return the meat to the pan. Pour over the hot stock, cover and bring to the boil. Cook in the oven for 2-3 hours, until the meat is falling off the bone.

Remove the meat and the herbs. Liquidize the cooking liquor thoroughly and return to the pan. Reduce over a medium heat until thickened. Once again return the meat to the proceedings and keep warm.

Finely chop the parsley and add the lemon zest and garlic. To make the polenta, bring the water to the boil and pour in the polenta slowly, whisking as you go. Whisk over a low heat for 1 minute, stir in the parmesan, and serve immediately with the braised oxtail and the gremolata sprinkled on top.

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