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Jane Devonshire Recipes

Main Course
Beef and Oxtail Stew

Serves 4 - 6

 

100g (3½oz) pancetta or smoked bacon lardons

1 large leek, finely chopped

3 large carrots, finely diced

2 sticks of celery, finely diced, leaves left on for extra flavour

2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 large onion or 4-5 banana shallots, diced

2-3 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked (or 1tbsp mixed dried herbs)

900g (2lb) shin of beef, diced and gristle removed (or use braising steak)

4 large pieces of oxtail (about 600g/1lb 5oz), chopped (from your butcher or available in packs from supermarkets), optional

55g (2oz) plain flour (omit if cooking gluten-free)

Salt and pepper

Oil and butter, for frying

375ml (13fl oz) red wine (or Guinness)

850ml (1½pt) good beef stock, available from supermarkets (or use 3 Bovril cubes, but these are salty so avoid adding any more salt)

A pinch or two of sugar, if using Guinness

2tsp cornflour (if cooking gluten-free – make sure you check it’s gluten-free on the label)

 

To serve

 

Cooked mash and cavolo nero or spinach

 

This is a dish that relies on long, slow cooking, and I like to make it the day before. Refrigerate overnight and put back in the oven at 170°C/fan 150°C/gas 3 for 90 minutes to reheat. The flavours really develop and it’s great for supper with friends when you don’t want to be cooking last-minute.

Put the pancetta, leek, carrots, celery, garlic, onion and herbs into a large casserole on the hob and gently cook through until translucent, around 15 minutes. I leave the lid on as this preserves juices and flavour. Pour everything into a large bowl and put to one side.

 

Place the beef and oxtail into a bowl and coat with flour and salt and pepper (if cooking gluten-free, omit the flour and just season the meat). Heat a little oil and a knob of butter in the same casserole you cooked the vegetables in (not too much fat or the stew will be oily).

 

Brown the meat, in batches if necessary, to get a nice caramelisation without burning the butter and oil mixture. Using a slotted spoon, place the meat on top of the reserved vegetables. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4.

 

Place the casserole back on the hob, pour in the red wine (or Guinness) and boil until the mixture is reduced to 2-3tbsp and all the alcohol has burned off. Use this time to get all the nice golden sticky bits off the bottom of the pan if you can.

 

Add the beef stock to the pan and the meat and vegetables, ensuring they are covered with the liquid. Put the lid on and place in the oven for around 3 hours, until the meat is really tender. I taste and adjust the seasoning, and also add a pinch of two of sugar if using Guinness.

 

If you’re cooking gluten-free, remove half an hour before the end of the cooking time, make up a paste of 2tsp cornflour and a little cold water, stir into the stew and return to the oven to thicken. Serve with buttery mash and cavolo nero or spinach.

JANE'S TIP:

This is a dish that relies on long, slow cooking, and I like to make it the day before. Refrigerate overnight and put back in the oven at 170°C/fan 150°C/gas 3 for 90 minutes to reheat. The flavours really develop and it’s great for supper with friends when you don’t want to be cooking last-minute.
 

Jane says... This is a fail-safe beef stew with some oxtail to add extra flavour. I’ve added wine, but my nan used Guinness, which gives a stronger flavour.