Well chaps, we’ve hit ‘peak beard’ apparently. I am one of the apparent bandwagon jumpers clinging to the coat-tails of the rich and famous by aping their facial fungus fad. Except, I didn’t as far as I was aware – maybe it was a subconscious thing having noticed all the hipsters knocking around the various new undecorated bars eating pigs ears and cauliflower fritters with their American hop ales. Or, I took the opportunity to pack in the daily ritual of shaving for the last 20-odd years and make it look intentional. Yeah, it must be that.
[Dubious link alert] It got me thinking though: have we hit the slow cook peak? The current trend for cheap and unusual cuts of meat and offal. I don’t think so yet, and I certainly hope we haven’t. Use more of the animals we choose to kill for our meat I say. 1 – because it seems the right thing to do and 2 – because it’s bloody delicious.
This recipe actually took a couple of days to prepare, but in the tradition of slow cooked foods, actually takes up very little of your time. Pot. Meat. Veg. Lid on. That’s it. There is a little bit to do at the end of course, but that’s the fun part.
Here I used a thick rib of beef on the bone and some oxtail. Both are slow cooked kings and cheap as chips. If you cook them in a casserole pot/dutch oven with some liquid you can leave it and forget about it. Again, as I always do nowadays, I switched off the oven and left the pot to rest. The best thing about these cuts is that they make their own stock as you go.
Made a nice combination, but you need a weekend to make this. The asparagus is the first of the new season too. The kale is pretty much as you’d make kale chips – with the brine water evaporating to leave the leaves nicely seasoned. The onion puree is nice and sweet to compliment the very savory ingredients otherwise.
The oxtail and barley croquette is a bit of a job to do but was very good so I urge you to try it.
For the beef/oxtail braising
- 1x600g thick beef rib, on the bone.
- About 300g oxtails
- 1 carrot, halved
- 1 onion, quartered
- 1 celery stick, halved
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 2 star anise
- Water to cover
- Salt and black pepper.
For the crispy kale:
- 4 handfuls of kale
- 2 good pinches of salt and a little water
For the onion puree:
- 1 large onion
- 2 large garlic cloves
- A little light cream (enough to loosen)
For the asparagus:
- 6 pieces of asparagus
- A little oil
- Pinch of salt.
For the oxtail and barley croquettes:
- Barley (about 3 handfuls)
- Salt and black pepper.
Fry the meat in batches until well browned in a hob proof casserole pot. Add all the other ingredients and bring to a simmer. Place in a low oven (130 degrees C) for 3 hours – then turn the oven off and leave overnight – it will be fine if you leave the oven shut and the lid on.
The next morning, chill the pot in the fridge. This hardens any fat on the surface so you can scrape it off.
About 2 hours before, pick the meat from the oxtail. Cook the barley in a pan for about 20-30 minutes until soft but with bite. Drain, cool, mix with the oxtail, season and chill until cold and ‘mouldable’. Meanwhile, trim the beef rib of remaining fat, removing the bone, into neat oblongs.
Set aside. Heat the pan back up and pour the cooking liquor, which will have ‘jellified’ into a small pan for later (cover with film for now).
Chop and fry the onions and garlic in a pan with a little oil or butter until browned and caramelised. Blend well with enough cream to make a loose puree. Pour back into the pan and season to taste. Put the lit on and keep until needed.
Put the oven on for the kale and beef rib (moderate heat will do).
Heat a griddle pan and char the asparagus with a little oil and salt until nicely marked and softened. Delicious.
Flash fry the beef rib in a pan and transfer to the oven to heat through. Leave to rest somewhere wam. Heat the saved cooking liquor, reducing a little if necessary to make an intense sauce
Roll the oxtail/barley mix with wet hands into golf ball sized rounds (one each) and dip first in the seasoned flour, then egg and finally the bread crumbs. Deep fry them gently until nicely golden.
Meanwhile, and lastly, mix the kale with the salt/water to produce a mild brine and bake in the oven until crisp. It takes only minutes.
Serve it up and enjoy with a nice big Shiraz as you’ll deserve it after doing all this.