Despite the name, these days oxtail doesn’t necessarily come from an ox, it can come from any beef cattle. The name is, however, reflective of the part of the animal it comes from: the tail. But don’t let this put you off; it’s incredibly tasty and meaty and if you didn’t know what it was and you ate it off the bone you’d think it was no different to any other cut of beef, except perhaps more flavoursome.
I’d never cooked oxtail – never even come across it as far as I can remember – until the other night and now I can’t wait to catch my next tail. It has the most deliciously intense, beefy flavour that you wouldn’t believe and the gelatine in the bone gives you a wonderfully gelatinous broth full of heart and soul. If you’re looking for comfort food when you’re feeling under the weather this is the real deal.
I started off making a stew with my oxtail but the broth was so good I decided not to reduce it down and turn it into a soup. All it took was some slow bubbling on the hob with classic stew vegetables and beef stock for 3 hours. Then I just served a piece of the oxtail in a bowl surrounded by all the glorious broth.
This may have been my first encounter with oxtail but it will by no means be my last. I can see this being made throughout the winter when it turns bitterly cold. I have a chapter in my cookbook on winter cooking and I feel it would be a crying shame to leave this out; in that one meal it earned its place.