Braised Oxtail with Pears, Garlic and a whole lot of love!
Braised oxtail is one of those quintessential winter recipes that you have to make at least once every winter.
Braised oxtail, like Waterblommetjie Stew or Curry Beans or Bean Soup with Marrow Bones, is most definitely part of my food heritage. Growing up in Ceres, where the mountain tops are cover in snow most winters, these dishes were life savers when you got home from school, freezing from riding your red Raleigh bicycle. Wrapping your ice cold hands around a bowl of mom’s warm food, is a memory engraved in my mind forever.
My dad always says that in Summer an ox has too little tongues and in winter too little tails. Oxtail is sought after and if you want good quality, I suggest you find a good butcher, stay with him forever and place your order in time. For the braised oxtail, I suggest you work on 1 big chunk per person and a few smaller bones to slurp and suck on. It is those little bones that has the wonderful limey gelatin which makes braised oxtail so decadent.
Most people make braised oxtail with onions, red wine, bay leaves, peppercorns etc. I wanted something different, but did not quite know what. I just knew that oxtail is so pricey that I cannot mess it up and my family, like so many South Africans, leans towards a sweeter taste.
Then Errieda Du Toit, shared a recipe on Facebook for a leg of lamb that she braised with 40 cloves of garlic and halved pears. Just there I decided that I will adapt the same idea for my braised oxtail. It worked! The meat was fork-tender, the garlic chutney in the bottom of the pot and the soft whole pears infused with all the meaty flavors were just sublime. Served on a bed of buttery, creamy mash…… oh hello winter, I have missed you!
Braised Oxtail with Pears and Garlic
+- 2 kg oxtail
salt and pepper
15 ml dry coriander – dry roasted and crushed
25 ml olive oil
10 cloves garlic
a few sprigs thyme
8 baby onions – peeled, but kept whole
4 small pears peeled – keep whole
250 ml Klein Roosboom Rosé
15 ml soy
500 ml beef stock
10 ml cornflour – mixed with a little water, just to thicken the sauce
juice and zest of 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 180 C. Heat a big oven casserole or cast-iron pot on the stove. Add the olive oil. Season the meat and brown the pieces in batches in the pot. Pack the meat and all other ingredients, except the cornflour, in the pot. Place the lid on the pot and braise the oxtail for 3-4 hours, checking after every hour if the meat is tender or if it maybe needs more liquid or more time. Once the meat is fork-tender, stir in the cornflour mix and place the pot back in the oven, this time with the lid off. The meat will brown slightly while the stock thickens. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. Just before serving add a few drops of lemon juice and zest. Serve on creamy, buttery mash.