Winter dishes are typically thought of as stodge-laden indulgences – steaming stews, rib-sticking pies, and other calorific cockle-heaters to help fight off the cold. Hearty? Undoubtedly. Healthy? Not so much.
At The Cookery School at Daylesford, however, they are of the belief that you can have your cake and eat it – as proven by this dish, an oxtail rage that is both a classic comfort food and packed with good-for-you ingredients – like proteins, beneficial fats and skin-rejuvenating collagen to boot.
A guilt-free pleasure for a winter weekend. Tuck in.
For the oxtail ragu:
1.2kg oxtail pieces
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large stick celery, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 sage leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp tomato purée
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
250ml red wine
250ml beef stock
Salt and pepper
2 bay leaves
For the crushed root vegetables:
450g celeriac, peeled and roughly chopped
450g Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
½ a lemon, juice only
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp capers, roughly chopped
Chopped parsley to serve
Preheat the oven to 160°C. Season the oxtail pieces with salt and pepper. Pour a little oil to a heavy casserole pan and once hot, add the oxtail pieces and brown all over. Transfer to a plate and keep to one side.
Pour a little more oil to the pan and then add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic. Sauté over a moderate heat for 8–10 minutes until softened, without taking on too much colour. Add the sage leaves and tomato purée and stir over the heat for 1 minute.
Tip in the chopped tomatoes, stir well and then pour in the wine and stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes to reduce slightly. Season well with salt and pepper and add the bay leaves.
Return the oxtail pieces to the pan, pushing them down into the sauce. Bring back to a simmer, cover with a lid and place in the middle of the oven for 2½ to 3 hours, or until the meat easily pulls away from the bones.
Allow the casserole to cool to room temperature and then remove the oxtail pieces from the sauce. Pull the meat away from the bones, discarding any excess gristle or fat, and shred into small pieces with a fork.
Skim any fat from the surface of the sauce, using a large spoon and then return the shredded meat to the pan, stirring well. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed.
To make the mash, place the celeriac and artichokes in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover. Add a little salt and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes until the vegetables are just tender.
Drain and return to the pan with the olive oil, lemon juice and a little salt and pepper. Roughly mash, leaving plenty of texture. Add the chopped capers and taste to check the seasoning.
Before serving, ensure the ragu is piping hot. Pile a portion of the mash into a deep bowl, top with the sauce and finish with a little chopped parsley.