Monday, 23 September 2013

Oxtail Ragu

You would think that after almost two years and over three hundred posts that I would know if I had written something before.  I know that I have repeated recipes in that time, some things* crop up quite often, but now that Tonight's Menu isn't daily I just manage not to write about those meals.  However, it turns out that my ageing memory is still prone to playing tricks on me.

I could have sworn that I had told you all** about the joys of Oxtail Ragu.  I was certain that I would be going over old ground if I told you that The Geometry of Pasta is one of my favourite cookery books.  At least three other people held the same opinion, but I have been through the archives with a fine tooth comb and I can only find fleeting reference to this wonderful dish, so here we go.

I've been looking for an excuse and the time to cook oxtail ragu for months.  The last time I made it was back in December when we had a house full of guests for Christmas.  One tail makes easily enough ragu to serve five people, so it's the perfect dish for a big family gathering, or two greedy people who love leftovers.

There isn't much point reducing the recipe either, as even when sold cut up, oxtails are always sold as the entire tail.  This is a hangover from the days of Mad Cow Disease and the threat of CJD.  One tail, some stock veg, half a bottle of white wine*** and two tins of tomatoes are all you need, but you could add some bay leaves or other hard herbs.  The whole lot gets cooked together for as long as possible.  I suppose if you have a slow cooker you could use that.  I just left my pan on a very low heat for 6 hours the day before we planned to eat the sauce.

The original recipe in The Geometry of Pasta suggests that the oxtail should become the meal on day one and the sauce reserved for day two but I like to strip the meat from the bones, shred it between two forks and mix it back into the sauce.  The book also claims that this is a sauce for penne, but I don't hold to much stock in the assertion that you need the right pasta for a specific sauce.  Use whatever shape of pasta you have, but do try the oxtail ragu.

*see spaghetti bolognese, and sausage and bean casserole.
**hello Mum.
***yes white wine, trust me.

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