Saturday, 20 October 2012

I called him Jack: Oxtail and Dorset Naga Chili stew

One of the spoils I managed to snaffle from the amazing butchery course I went on last week was a whole oxtail. When the instructor handed it to me, I gave it a little swing and announced my decision to call him Jack. Bearing in mind it was only me and four guys on the course, I think they ended the session convinced I had been let out for the afternoon and my carer had somehow escaped. Ah well, they weren't far wrong. 

Learning how to slice the oxtail up was one thing (you have to find where the 'knuckle' is and they're not easy to spot) but cooking it was another. I'd never cooked oxtail before, and the only thing I knew was that if we wanted to eat before midnight I'd probably better wait for the weekend.

However, fate stepped in and gave me a stinking cold, so I decided to stay at home rather than generously give it to all my colleagues, and out came half of Jack the Oxtail from the freezer. After he had thoroughly defrosted, in he went with a couple of sliced Dorset Naga chilis to marinate. I still have a drawer full of these extremely hot (hotter than Scotch Bonnet) chilis in the fridge, as I got very excited about the Sea Springs Farm chili stall at the RHS Autumn Harvest Festival a couple of weeks ago, and bought two bags full of them. 

George started worrying about his tummy...

Oxtail and Dorset Naga chili stew

After marinating Jack for an hour in the Naga chilis and some black pepper, I fried up a big sliced onion in olive oil in a casserole pan, and added a big shake of cumin, 3 chopped cloves of garlic, the chopped chilis, some chunky sliced carrots, potatoes and mushrooms, followed by the oxtail, half a tin of flagolet beans (leftover in the fridge otherwise I probably wouldn't have bothered), half a bottle of red wine, a tin of chopped tomatoes, loads of seasoning, two bay leaves and a litre of hot water. I brought it to the boil and chucked it in the oven for 4 hours, then finished off with some fresh spinach at the end. 

We have now learnt that just because Dorset Naga chilis are grown in England does not mean they are any less hot than their equivalents grown in more equatorial climates, and I drank an entire pint of milk after finishing dinner. However, I can tell you that they gave the dish the most beautiful woody flavour. As for the oxtail? Well, it was so good that we ended up picking up the bones to try and scrape the tiniest last bits of meat off them... so we're rather glad that Jack has more to give. God bless whoever invented the freezer. Oxtail curry, anyone?


  1. Brilliant. Can't believe you actually called the tail Jack and then ate him with relish. This made me laugh. Keep going - more followers will arrive!

  2. I wish my leaving present had included an oxtail . They appear very rarely at our local butcher ( well , there is only one per ox , I suppose ) and he asks about 6 Euros per chunk !

    1. Wow, that's a whacking great price! I'll blog about something cheaper next time...