IN PRAISE OF THE BEAST!

img_3847As you are no doubt aware by now – I love food!  The only thing I don’t like is marzipan or marzipan flavours – I keep trying as I really want to like amaretto but just can’t do it.  I also love animals and as a confirmed carnivore think it is so important to eat every part of the beast.

I was vegetarian for four years in my thirties – I have to say this was probably due to my partner at the time; when I had a different partner and we bought a small holding I stopped being a Veggie and reared and slaughtered my own animals!!  I know fickle – it’s a long story and for a different kind of blog.  However one of the things I did discover about myself (apart from the fact I needed to stop being a chameleon) was that I am happy to eat meat as long as the animal has had a happy and good life; the provenance of animal is known and you eat all parts of it.  Luckily I am not at all squeamish; I can’t bear it when I hear people say they only eat meat if they don’t think about where it comes from and as long as they buy it from a supermarket and it is shrink wrapped within an inch of its life!  For me I use a trusted butcher with whom I am building a relationship; the meat has to be organic or sourced from a trusted source so I know the animal has skipped around a field, engaged with the elements and not been forcefed antibiotics or anything else for that matter.

My wonderful small people already roll their eyes as every time they see an animal in a field I ask them what food or drink they give us; then when it’s on their plate I ask them what animal it came from.  Small Boy isn’t in the slightest bit bothered; Small Girl may possibly grow into a Vegetarian!!

So this week I served them oxtail; I have photographs of them as toddlers supping the meat from the jack stone shaped bones and they loved it.  However you know kids; if there is a Y in the day they may change their mind whether they like it or not. I need not have worried, they completely devoured it to the point there wasn’t enough for a second meal – so the dogs enjoyed the very meagre leftovers.

Like all my food don’t feel that you need to be a slave to my recipe; I found the parsnips languishing in the bottom of the fridge so chucked them in; I always add more carrots as Small Girl can’t get enough of them; I happened to have fresh thyme so used this – you get my drift I’m sure!

OXTAIL STEW  (serves four)

1kg of oxtail

flour

2 onions (sliced)

handful of carrots (chopped into chunks)

2 stems of celery (sliced)

2 parsnips (chopped into chunks)

herbs

a bottle of beer (optional)

beef stock (of course this can be a cube or a gel etc)

 

Warm the oven to 150c; Dust the oxtail lightly in seasoned flour; warm a good glug of olive oil in a heavy based casserole (it needs to be oven proof); brown the oxtail a few pieces at a time until it gets a lovely golden brown glow, remove to a plate until you have browned all pieces.

Add the onions, celery, carrots, parsnips (or whatever vegetables you are using) to the pan and stir together in the olive oil (you may need to add a drop or two more of oil); as soon as these have mingled and got to know each other add the herbs; season with salt and pepper, let the oxtail rejoin the pan; give it all a good mix.  (I then emptied a bottle of Belgian beer into the pan left over from the footie; wine would do the trick but don’t feel obliged) and cover with stock.

I like to place a wet cartouche on top of the stew before the lid to reduce evaporation.  Place the casserole in the oven and cook for three hours (keep an eye so it doesn’t dry out).

Now like all dishes of this kind, I like to make this the day before I want to eat it as this lets the flavours develop (also once cool you can scrape any fat from the top if the oxtail was a bit on the fatty side).  You can just warm it on the hob the following day, check for seasoning and add a drop or two of water if too dry.  Serve with greens and potatoes or as I did mashed swede as the other half is leaning towards low carb.  Whatever you serve it with it really is delicious and a delight to watch your family tucking in – just make sure you quiz them about what animal it has come from.  You can also join the bones together to show the tail – but that may just be me!!

Enjoy. xx