I was visiting the 'rents at the weekend and was delighted to find that a new traditional butchers had just opened: http://www.ianchatfield.co.uk.
Naturally, that gave me the perfect excuse to go in and see what interesting cuts I could get my hand on; the sort of thing supermarkets simply don't stock. I've fancied making ox-tail soup for a while and the rubbish weather meant that such a warming broth is still welcome.
I did a fair amount or research into finding a great recipe for ox-tail soup. I was quite surprised that there was very little variation so I think what I made was pretty "authentic"and I couldn't have been much happier.
The soup was very rich and very meaty but refreshed by the hit of parsley. It had a real depth of complex flavour. The strands of meat were meltingly tender with an occasional crispy jewel. The time invested in making this definitely paid off. It's little wonder that this is a timeless classic.
Ox-tail soup recipe (Serves 4)
1 ox-tail ~900g/2lb
Onion, roughly chopped
Celery stalk, roughly chopped
Carrot, roughly chopped
Turnip, roughly chopped
Thyme, two sprigs
7 black peppercorns
1tbsp tomato puree
225ml red wine
1.125l beef stock
1oz butter, softened
Parsley, to garnish
1. Roll the ox-tail pieces in seasoned flour and knock off any excess.
2. Brown the meat over a high-heat in a little hot oil with the star anise. Once darkly caramelised remove the meat from that pan.
3. Turn down the heat, add the vegetable chunks to the pan and fry briefly to add a little colour.
4. Add the tomato purée and fry for a minute. Add the remaining aromats and deglaze the pan with the white wine.
5. Add the meat back to the pan and add the stock. Bring to a very gently simmer and cook for 2.5 - 3 hours, covered, until the meat is very tender.
6. Remove the meat from the stock and allow to cool.
7. Strain the cooking liquor, cool and refrigerate over-night.
8. Remove the hardened layer of set fat from the liquor the next day.and remove the meat from the ox-tail bones and shred.
9. Warm the soup in a large pan. To thicken the soup, mix together the butter and flour and whisk in, if required.
10. To serve, fry the meat to give it a crispy finish, then pile into bowls. Spoon the soup around the meat and garnish with freshly chopped parsley.