Braised Oxtail with Onions, Anchovy and Red Wine Vinegar

Braised Oxtail with Onions, Anchovy and Red Wine Vinegar

Braised Oxtail with Onions, Anchovy and Red Wine Vinegar, in a casserole pot

As you can imagine, we keep an extensive library at T&G HQ, with shelves that are filled from top to bottom with cookbooks, magazines and recipe cuttings. All of which generally subscribe to the topic of meat - although we do have a couple pamphlets that refer to legumes and not forgetting Jane Grigson’s hallowed ‘Vegetable Book’.

The collection is there to help inspire us and to inspire our customers, and to also provide some peaceful haven away from the hustle and bustle of the shop and cutting room. A high backed leather winged Chesterfield sits in the corner, along with an array of fine whisky and bourbon secreted behind the offal section.

Like we said, it is a restful space but every now and then, a recipe jumps out from the page, forcing us to stand up straight and shout ‘Right, we’ve gotta do this one chaps and chapettes!’ It was whilst thumbing through an old copy of Simon Hopkinson’s ‘Week in, Week out’ just recently, when we spotted a dish that we just had to test and share. And believe us, it is a cracker (as you might expect from a chef such as Mr Hopkinson).

The main cause for excitement was the sheer amount of onions that goes into the pot. 2kg all told. Peeled, trimmed and sliced thinly. It is a lot but believe us, the time, energy and tears are definitely worth it. As they slow-cook, the onions reduce down into ribbons of golden sweetness and catch a touch on the sides of the casserole. Lending a deep, savoury Marmite backnote to proceedings.

Of course, the fact that it features oxtail is also cause for celebration. At this time of year, when it is particularly nippy, this cut is the perfect foil, with all that inherent, rich flavour that comes from the gelatine within the bone.

We have adapted the recipe a touch here, using chopped anchovies in place of anchovy essence. However, if you happen to swing by our shop at Greensmiths to collect your oxtail, they do stock Geo Watkins Anchovy Sauce, which will do just the trick.

Close up of Braised Oxtail with Onions, Anchovy and Red Wine Vinegar

Ingredients - serves 4 to 6 people

2kg oxtail, cut into large chunks (we can do that for you).
Maldon sea salt and cracked black pepper
Plain flour
2 tbsp beef dripping
2kgs onions, peeled and thinly sliced
3 bay leaves
1 tin of anchovies chopped (or 2tbsp anchovy essence)
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
4 tbsp freshly chopped curly leaf parsley


Preheat the oven to 140°C/275°C/gas mark 1

Season the oxtail with the sea salt and pepper and dust all over. Heat the beef dripping in a large casserole dish that also has a lid. Gently fry the oxtail all over, until crusted and golden (you may need to do this in batches) and remove to a plate.

Lay half of the onions in the bottom of the pot and reintroduce the oxtail in one layer together and add the bay leaves. Cover with the rest of the onions and then lay a sheet of greaseproof upon the surface and put on the lid. Place in the oven and slow-cook for 2 to 3 hours, or until the meat is about to fall off the bone.

Remove from the oven, take off the lid and pick out the oxtail. Place the pot back onto a moderate heat and stir together all the onions, which will now have collapsed into a golden goo. Stir in the chopped anchovies, vinegar and parsley, along with a splash of water - and return the oxtail, burying the pieces into the onion.

Put the lid back on, return to the oven and cook for another 20 minutes.

Serve at the table, directly from the pot, along with creamy mash and buttered greens.
Braised oxtail with onions, served with creamy mash and buttered greens.

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