Posted on Thu 03 January 2013

Offally good food

A recent discussion with @helgeg on about pigs trotter sausages inspired me to see if I could convert some of my family members over to the pleasure of eating offal. I grew up in a house where we ate offal such as oxtail, liver and tongue nearly as often as we ate the better cuts of meat. My mother even prepared ox tongue from scratch — not the sweetest smelling start to a meal but a delicious conclusion.

My own kids (and wife too if I’m honest) are not the best at trying new food that is unusual or comes from the less salubrious parts of a beast. I decided to start my campaign with the oxtail, a dish I’ve rarely cooked. After a couple of experimental runs I finally won over 66% of my victims with the following recipe which serves 4.


  • Approximately 2kg of oxtail — if that sounds a lot, remember it’s cheap and there’s not a lot of meat on there.
  • 1 large leek, sliced
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, chopped
  • Around 500ml stock (I used turkey stock from Christmas)
  • 1 large glass port
  • ½ a bottle dry white wine
  • ½ a jar of pasata tomato sauce
  • Cherry tomatoes (around 20)
  • 1 Star anise
  • 1 blade of mace
  • 2 bay leaves
  • More chopped root vegetables (e.g. potatoes, carrots and parsnip) as vegetables
  • Olive oil


  1. Trim the excess fat from the oxtail pieces.
  2. Brown batches of the oxtail in a frying pan and set them aside to drain off.
  3. Once all the pieces are browned add the chopped leek, carrot and celery to the pan and fry for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Add the port to the pan and boils this to deglaze the pan.
  5. Transfer the drained oxtail and vegetables to a large casserole and add the stock, white wine, , pasata, tomatoes, star anise, mace and bay leaves.
  6. Cover and cook the mixture in the oven at around 150°C (fan) for around 4 hours.
  7. Add the remaining root vegetables for one hour.

Once the root vegetables have softened and the oxtail falls off the bone easily the meal is ready to serve. That remaining ½ bottle of dry white wine might just come in useful at that point. Apparently serious carnivores like to recover some of the marrow from the oxtail bones at this point — I’ll leave it to you to decide if this is a step too far; it is delicious though!

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