A butcher's hook

First it was lamb shanks. Now the oxtail is emerging from the shadows as a sought-after meat for an evening winter meal.

"It's back in vogue thanks to Jamie Oliver and other TV chefs," Westown Butchery boss Murray Sattler said.

"I suppose it's the last thing through the gate so there's no reason not to eat it."

When everyone was flush the oxtail, like mutton shanks, were either tossed in the dog dish or bagged and frozen with good intentions. Those that made the freezer usually worked their way to the bottom and, when a new beast was killed, were tossed in the dog dish.

"They're popular now because they still represent a hearty economic meal," Sattler said. "They are perfect feed if you have a bunch of people around to watch the footie. We did an exercise with oxtail and vegetables for eight people and it worked out at under $7 a head. That's pretty good value to me."

The secret to success with the oxtail is long, slow cooking.

"The arrival of the slow cookers and crock pots has helped make them popular again. You must braise them in oil first and then do the slow preparation. It's even best if you do the oxtail part of our recipe a couple of days before your planned meal. Once cooked you let the tail segments cool, scrape off the fat then reheat them with the vegetables."

People should not be put off by the fat. "The tail has marbled fat and there is plenty of juice (marrow) in the bones which tends to work its way out during the cooking process. That all adds flavour to the stock and it's easy to scrape off whatever comes to the surface."

I followed the cooking instructions of Sattler's shop boss, Sarah Hoffman. Her oxtail and beans recipe was dead easy to follow.

It was absolutely delicious and two segments each of oxtail was enough for our two-person household. The german shepherd and jack russell drooled over the bones and leftover liquid from the crockpot.


Serves 8

2.5kg oxtail pieces, trimmed

salt and pepper

1 Tbsp smoked paprika

2 Tbsp oil

2 onions, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic crushed

1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger

3/4 cup tomato sauce

1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

3 Tbsp dijon mustard

1/3 cup cider vinegar

1 Tbsp worcestershire sauce

1 chilli, chopped

3 400g cans tomatoes

2 cans drained red kidney beans

1 cup of water

Heat oven to 220C. Season oxtail pieces with salt, pepper and paprika and spread out in a large roasting dish. Roast about 40 minutes or until oxtail starts to brown. Transfer to a large casserole or baking dish, discarding fat.

While oxtails are roasting, heat oil in a large pot and cook onions, garlic and ginger over a low heat until soft, stirring often. Stir in the beans and one cup of water, along with all the other ingredients. Simmer 5 minutes. Transfer to casserole dish with oxtails. Lower oven temperature to 160 deg, cover and bake for 3 hours or until meat is falling off the bone. Cool and refrigerate overnight, then remove any fat that sits on top. To re-heat, bring back to room temperature then cook for an hour at 160 deg.

Serve with mashed potato, sour cream and fresh chopped parsley.

In our last Butcher's Hook we asked if anyone could shed light on how the bolar roast earned its name. Reader Roger Watkins says the term bolar is derived from the Greek bolus, meaning a clod. Bolus is also defined as a clod or lump in medical terms, such as a food lump in the digestive system.

Taranaki Daily News