Jennee’s bit (not Jennee’s bits you perve! She gave that up years ago when I made an honest woman of her!)
“Some of you may know me as the hard arse, competitive wifee that loves a good slow roast anything and ensures that Gray’s head doesn’t over inflate due to too much praise. But what a lot of people don’t know about me is my penchant for ignoring warning signs that appear on the dash board display of cars and taking fate into my own hands. I have been known to run out of fuel on a regular occasion, usually when my dad (you may know him as Dr Chris) is in the seat next to me… with a less than impressed look on his face. I have also been known to ignore the oil light that glows a faint red that means more “red goes faster” than, “red means danger” to me. And I may also have had a couple of trips, courtesy of the tow man, to the mechanic in order to pump the fuel tank due to the wrong fuel being put in.
And so that is why I am here today, with time up my sleeve as I wait for said tow man to come and save me in his shiny truck glistening with hope and goodwill, writing this blog post as clearly my work day is now put on hold. Did I mention that it was the work vehicle that is now being towed?
I checked in with the man of the house who was knee deep in sunshine and good times at home (it’s a Monday, bloody hospitality slackers!) I relayed my predicament, he laughed, I told him to shut up, he laughed some more, and then told me to come up with a challenge for him for dinner. I immediately thought, turmeric chicken, my “last meal” if by some chance I commit a crime that is punishable by death, this is what I would ask for, along with sticky rice balls, green papaya salad, pickled cucumber and a bucket load of mind numbing drugs and alcohol to wash the thoughts of impending death away! But alas, he was not warming to this, probably because I request it the majority of times that he asks me the “dinner” question.
A challenge I hear him say, something that he has not cooked before I hear him say. Well as I have seen him cook pretty much everything, I was stumped. But then… my old friend google came into play. I googled unique recipes, and was pretty excited about what I saw, including recipes for pig rectum sausages, scrambled brains, smoked squirrel and stir fried uterus! I am pretty sure uterus and rectums are not a staple in the shop of the local butcher so I had to reel it in a little. I settled on oxtail with oranges and red wine with a gremolata salad. I eagerly await the taste sensation as I whittle the hours away on the milk crate of the service station. I think it should also be mentioned that I parked the car really badly too, so I am taking up two spots in the service station. Much to the annoyance of the business owner! I hope the tow truck gets hear soon, or I may be lynched by the angry mob of motorists having to use the only fuel pump available!”
Not being one to back down from a challenge I wiped the happy tears from my eyes and headed straight up to the local butchers. I enquired as to the availability of pig (or any other animal’s) rectum or uterus. My butcher is a big country lad and he just sorta stood there looking at me for a while, a quarter smile on his lips, handed me a bag of ox tail and ushered me quietly from his shop.
So here we are. Today I am cooking ox tail with orange, olives and walnuts a la Maggie Beer
1 ½ brown onion, roughly chopped
1 celery stick, roughly chopped
¼ cup olive oil
2kg ox tail, trimmed and cut into 5 cm pieces by your butcher
50g unsalted butter
flour for dusting, I used rice flour because Jennee can’t do the gluten
1 cup red wine
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
1 handful parsley, chopped
250g ripe tomatoes, peeled and diced
500ml beef stock
2 strips orange peel
20 black olives
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 ½ tablespoons sugar
- Preheat the oven to 220C.
- Toss the onion and celery with a little of the olive oil in a roasting pan, then roast for 20 minutes until caramelised. Dry roast the walnuts on a baking tray in the oven for 6 minutes, then rub their skins off with a clean tea towel and set aside.
- Toss the meat in flour seasoned with salt and pepper, shaking off the excess.
- In a heavy-based frying pan, brown the oxtail in batches in the remaining olive oil and the butter over high heat. Transfer each batch to a large heavy-based casserole.
- Deglaze the frying pan with the wine, scraping to release all the caramelised bits from browning. Add the garlic, onions, celery, herbs and tomatoes to the frying pan and reduce the wine a little over high heat, then tip everything into the casserole. Add the beef stock and the water, making sure that everything is immersed, and simmer over low heat, covered, until tender – this could take 3 to 4 hours.
- Add the orange rind and olives in the last 20 minutes of cooking.
- Strain the cooking juices from the meat and skim as much fat as possible from the top. Set the meat aside in a warm place.
- In a stainless steel or enamelled saucepan, combine the Red Wine Vinegar and sugar and boil until the vinegar has evaporated and the sugar has caramelised.
- Reduce the cooking juices to a syrupy consistency, and then add the caramelised vinegar mixture to taste.
- Toss the cooked oxtail with the walnuts and pour the sauce back over the oxtail.
Maggie suggests serving with mashed potato, creamy polenta or pasta, but I went renegade and served it with a few boiled chat potatoes and salsa verde. Mental, I know.
It was damn fine. I needed to reassure Obi (youngest son) that even though it was the tail of the cow it wouldn’t have any poo on it and in no way, shape or form would we be consuming poo for our dinner any time soon. Seba (oldest son) loved it so much he came back for seconds without a second thought about the tail and its proximity to the poo hole. Jennee declared that it was a damn fine cook up. With the family happy I proceeded to nod off on the couch, not unlike the heroin junkie after his daily hit.
So I tip my hat to you Maggie Beer. You and your ox tail with orange, olives and walnuts…