As with most braised dishes, oxtail is the perfect do-ahead meal. Cooking a day or two ahead allows the flavours to develop and also makes it easier to remove the considerably quantity of fat that oxtail will yield. Cool and refrigerate overnight, then lift the solidified fat from the surface.
2 kilogram pieces of oxtail
3 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large onion, sliced
1 carrot, diced
2 bay leaves
2 cured chorizo sausages, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
zest and juice 1 orange
1 cup red wine
1 cup beef stock
16 pitted prunes
Preheat the oven to 150˚C.
Dry the oxtail on kitchen towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a wide ovenproof casserole and brown the oxtail on all sides. Don’t crowd the pan – brown in batches if needed. Transfer to a plate as they brown. Drain off all the oil in the pan, leaving just the sticky bits on the bottom. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil, the onion, carrot, bay leaves and chorizo, season and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, paprika, orange zest and juice then add the red wine and let it bubble up for a couple of minutes. Add the stock and return the oxtail to the pan with any meat juices and nestle the meat in the sauce along with the prunes. Cover the meat with a piece of baking paper then cover the dish tightly with a lid. Cook for 2½ – 3 hours, turning the oxtail halfway through, until very tender and the meat will easily pull away from the bone.
The braising liquid should be quite thick and well reduced. If serving immediately, tilt the pan and skim off most of the surface fat with a spoon. Serve with a root vegetable mash, baked potatoes with sour cream or couscous.
Cook’s tip: Oxtail has a high ratio of bone to meat, so generally allow about 450 grams per person.