Winter Barbecue Oxtail
Number of Servings
Call me crazy but I love a Winter barbecue. Even the most ferocious British weather very rarely puts me off lighting coals and cooking over wood fire.
There is something about cooking over wood fire on the barbecue, something that helps me feel connected to our food and the land.
Typically when I first decided to share my love of a winter barbecue, I had this romantic idea of brisk cold and clear winters day, with beautiful mid-winter light and a magical nip in the air. In reality, the day was a deluge, pouring rain, howling winds and bitterly cold - not quite what I had been aiming for! Never the less, out came the stiff upper lip and my commitment to the task in hand relishing in the joys of a winter barbecue. If anything with weather that felt like the world could possibly be coming to an end, this only spurred me on to prove the point that we should all cook outside, whatever the weather.
Now one of the key components of a winter bbq is thinking about how much time you actually want to be out in the bitter cold. It's not a sizzling sausage occasion, nor is it cosy campfire burgers in a bun. Winter barbequing for me is much like a lot of winter cooking, best done low and slow. A pot gently blipping in the corner that you barely pay attention to. Or a stew hastily shoved in the stove while other jobs are done. I'm really quite a lazy cook so the one-pot style does suit me best.
Bring on a cut that has somewhat gone out of fashion - Oxtail. I'm sure your Grandparent would have relished in Oxtail, but over the years it has criminally fallen out of favour. I imagine this is mostly because it is misunderstood, perhaps it's also because it doesn't deliver instant satisfaction. Well, as my Granny used to say everything good comes to those who wait.
The characteristics of Oxtail mean you patience is key. There's no other way to cook this classic cut than slowly, with plenty of liquid. The slower the better. The idea is to gently break down and melt all the amazing nutritious collagen and marrow contained within the Oxtail, this results in a satisfying stew.
Oxtail stew is one of those classic winter dishes that not only warm you up but it restores, it nourishes you and can help ward off all kinds of Winter ailments. This could come in handy give then freezing soaking I was about to endure.
- 1 Red Ruby Oxtail
- 2 pouches of Beef Broth
- 2 onions
- 1 garlic bulb
- 2 glasses of red wine
- a couple of bay leaves
- Firstly start with the fire. Take two bags of charcoal and a couple of medium logs and spread them out evenly across the base of the fire pit. Set alight and wait for the coals to show a 3 inch grey coat, this can take about an hour.
- In the meantime take a solid cast iron pot with a lid, that you don’t mind getting a little scuffed. Into the pot place the onions halved, the bulb of garlic halved, bay leaves, red wine and stock. Quickly sear the oxtail, sealing the meat and browning all over, then pop it into the pot.
- Once the fire has burnt down, you should be able to place your hand fairly close to the coals, submerge the pot in the centre of the fire. Cover the pot with additional coals to make a cosy oven then leave the stew to gently bubble away for 2 hours. If your pot is getting too warm, simply remove it from the direct heat, move it away from the coals by shoving them away to one side of the pit.
- After 2 hours, check on the stew and the coals. If the coals have burnt down add a few more around the outside of the fire only, being careful not to place the fresh coal too close to the pot as this will increase the heat. Return the pot back to the fire and cook for a further 3 hours.
- By the time the coals have fully burnt out and are cool, your stew should be cooked. You’re aiming for a 6-8 hour cook.