For me, this oxtail dish delivers about as much satisfaction as any dish can. I’m a massive fan of winter, and the thought of eating something like this fireside with a bottle of Hawke's Bay Syrah nearby is right up my comfort alley. I also love the juxtaposition of a cheap slow-cooked secondary cut sitting on a humble grain with the flavour dial turned up to full noise when you introduce fresh truffle. Don’t fret though if you don’t have access to truffles, just use a good-quality truffle or porcini oil instead. On the side? A simple fresh salad with a sharp vinaigrette and crusty bread with lashings of butter wouldn’t go astray.
Step 1: Oxtail Ragout
Pre heat your oven to 150 degrees.
Place a couple of skillets or similar on high heat. Season the oxtail with salt and pepper. Add a little canola oil to the hot pans, then sear the oxtail in batches, for a few minutes each side until caramelized. Place into a large casserole dish.
Keep the pans on the heat and add the chopped carrots, onion, celery and garlic to them. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes until the vegetables pick up some colour, then pour over the oxtail and toss in the sprigs of fresh herbs and the bay leaves.
Lastly pour over the port, wine, chicken stock, demi-glace, then add the red currant jelly for a little sweetness.
Put a lid on the top of the dish and place on high heat for 5 minutes to get it boiling, before moving into the oven. Cook for at least 3 hours or until the meat falls away from the bone with ease. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature. Remove the oxtail pieces from the liquid and set aside.
Strain the cooking liquid into a clean saucepan, and discard the remaining solids. Place on medium/low heat to simmer and start reducing the stock to a sauce-like consistency. Remove any fat or impurities that rise to the top.
Once you are happy with the consistency of the gravy add back the oxtail. Keep warm if using immediately, or refrigerate until required.
Step 2: Creamy Polenta
Place a saucepan on medium heat and add milk and cream. Bring up to a simmer.
While whisking continuously, in a fine stream add the instant polenta into the simmering liquid. Turn the heat down to low while you continue to whisk. As the polenta thickens, swap the whisk for a wooden spoon. Add the grated truffle and parmesan, then remove polenta from the heat.
After a few minutes, stir in the butter. Taste and season accordingly with salt and pepper. Set aside and keep warm.
Step 3: Cooking and Serving
Place the braised oxtail in a saucepan and reheat until good and hot. Likewise with the polenta, reheat in the saucepan. If the polenta has become a little thick, whisk in some more milk or cream to bring back the runniness. It should be the consistency of sloppy runny porridge!
Divvy the oxtail up into bowls with plenty of the gravy, then spoon over the creamy polenta. Shave or grate extra truffle over the oxtail, or add a few more drops of truffle or porcini oil. Grate over some fresh parmesan and finish with a grind of black pepper.
Photography by Kieran Scott