Oxtail & Cannellini Bean Soup


IMG_0993There was a time when you could pick up Oxtail for virtually nothing from the butchers – another hearty peasant food from days gone by.  However it seems to have mad e a revival recently – this is good in so much as it’s more widely ‘visible’, but at the same time seems to have been a good excuse to bump up the price.  But still, this is a cheap cut of beef with superb flavour and cooking qualities.   The beans in this recipe pad the soup out a little – it really is incredibly rich.  Until Oxtail was discovered, there just wasn’t a culinary use for the word ‘unctuous’.  However, if you wanted to create a ‘pure’, unadulterated oxtail soup, you’ll need at least twice as much meat, probably more

This is a 2 part recipe which starts off by cooking the oxtail and making the stock.  The slow cooking is essential for oxtail, and consequently this isn’t a quick meal to make, but it’s certainly worth the wait.  I know you just love my Shin of beef recipes – it’s been hitting the top 5 consistently since it was published, but do you know what?  This is EVEN BETTER!

Do yourself a favour and hunt out those cheap cuts of meat from your butcher if you want the best flavour for minimal cost.

Serves: 3

Ingredients

  • 500g Ox Tail
  • 2 tbsp Plain Flour
  • 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Onions, halved
  • 2 Large Carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 Sticks Celery, roughly chopped
  • 1.5 ltr Water
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • Dried Mixed Herbs
  • 4 rashers Smoked Bacon, finely chopped
  • 125g Chestnut Mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 Knorr Beef Stock Pots (or alternative beef stock)
  • 1 tin Cannellini Beans
  • Parsley, chopped
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

  • Put the flour in a plastic bag and add the oxtail pieces.  Toss to coat
  • Heat the oil in a large oven-proof pan and add the contents of the plastic bag. Brown the oxtail, turning regularly
  • Add the onion, carrot celery, water, herbs and plenty of black pepper and bring to the boil.  Cover and cook slowly in the oven at 140oC for at least 3 hours, until the oxtail meat is falling off the bone
  • Pick out all of the meat and the oxtail pieces and allow to cool slightly, and strain the rest of the stock well through a sieve, pushing through as much of the juices from the vegetables as possible.  Discard the veg
  • Take each piece of oxtail in turn and pick out the pieces of meat.  This is a bit fiddly, but if it’s well cooked, it won’t take very long.  The meat should shred as it comes away from the bone, which in turn will be left fairly clean with maybe a few bit of stubborn fat and cartilage, which you could really do without anyway
  • Rinse the pan and fry off the bacon until golden, then add the mushrooms to soften for a few minutes
  • Add the beef, beans, strained stock and knorr stock pots and bring to the boil
  • Simmer gently for 10 minutes or so and check the seasoning
  • Serve with plenty of fresh crusty bread
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