Oxtail with Guinness, Mushrooms and Soda Bread

, from Issue #67. July, 2016
Photography by Aaron McLean.
Oxtail with Guinness, Mushrooms and Soda Bread

This lovely rich sauce needs the brown sugar to take the bitter edge off the Guinness. If you don’t want to use beer, replace it with the same quantity of good beef stock and leave out the sugar. 

Serves: 6


½ cup plain flour
1½ kilograms oxtail
olive oil
500 grams portobello mushrooms, quartered
3 large onions, thickly sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
330ml Guinness or stout beer
sea salt and ground pepper
To serve
handful parsley, finely chopped

Soda Bread
1⅔ cups plain flour 
1⅔ cups whole wheat flour 
½ cup instant rolled oats 
½ cup sunflower seeds 
1 tablespoon brown sugar 
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons butter, diced
400–500ml buttermilk

To cook
milk for brushing
2 tablespoons rolled oats


Preheat the oven to 140°C fan bake.

Put the flour in a large bowl and season generously with salt and pepper. Toss the oxtail to coat then shake off the excess flour. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan and brown the oxtail, in batches, on all sides, adding more oil as needed. Transfer to a large, ovenproof baking dish as they are browned.

Add the mushrooms to the saucepan with the onions. Season well and add a splash of water if the pan is too dry. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the tomato paste, mustard, sugar and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in the beer and scrape the bottom of the pan with a spoon to release any lovely sticky bits stuck on the bottom.

Pour the contents of the pan over the oxtail. Cover with baking paper then with a tight-fitting lid or foil. Braise for about 3 hours turning the oxtail every hour, or until very tender.

To serve: Transfer to a large bowl, sprinkle with the parsley and serve with the loaf of warm soda bread, if desired.  

Serving option: Stir together ⅓ cup each sour cream and horseradish sauce. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Soda Bread

Preheat the oven to 180°C fan bake.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Using your fingertips, rub in the butter until it resembles fine crumbs. Add 400ml of the buttermilk and quickly mix to a soft dough, adding more buttermilk, if necessary, to bring the dough together.

Tip on to a floured bench and shape into a rough round. Transfer to a lined baking tray and make a deep cut crosswise in the top. Brush with a little milk and sprinkle with the oats.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a golden brown and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. For a soft crust, wrap the hot loaf in a clean tea towel.

Serve warm with lashings of butter. Makes 1 loaf