Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Oxtail Stew and Vagina Jelly

Yup, you read my title. We had an Oxtail Stew with Red Wine and Marjoram for dinner tonight, followed by the Rhubarb and Muscat jelly.

67. Oxtail with Mackeson and Marjoram
68. Rhubarb and Muscat Jelly

It was a bit of a mission getting oxtail – we have two excellent butchers close by, and it took three phone calls, and three separate trips to the butchers to get my oxtail. Neither one had oxtail when I first called, and I had to order it in. I ended up getting one tail from Belmore Butchers, and another from Rendinas Butchery.

Nigella says you should get oxtail pieces that are nice and chunky, and as near to the same size as is possible. Because I got two whole tails (which the butchers cut up for me), my pieces ranged from teensy to large. But given that it was so difficult to get my hands on, I wasn’t about to start complaining about its girth. I did chuck the superduper small pieces in the freezer though, to make stock with later. Bring on the brodo!

I started cooking the stew on Monday morning, so that we could eat it on Tuesday night. You need to cook it a day ahead so that the stew can get cold enough to be degreased effectively. But Nigella says, “I’m happy with the fat left in: I love the artery-thickening deep and unctuous sauce is provides.” Thank goodness, because I forgot to degrease it.

She also says to use Mackeson (which is a type of stout, I think), but says you can substitute with red wine. I couldn’t find any Mackeson, but did have a half-finished bottle of red wine sitting in the kitchen, which is what I ended up using.

You cook some onions in oil, and add marjoram, garlic and parsley, then set it aside. Look at how beautiful it looks, all mushy and green-flecked.


Then dredge your oxtail pieces in flour, mustard, and cloves, and brown them in the same pan. I love my Le Crueset! On top of this you pile the onions, some tinned tomatoes, some carrots, bay leaves, celery, stock or water and the alcohol. Then cook it in the oven for 3-4 hours. I did this in half quantities, and thus it only needed 3 hours. Actually, I put it in the oven as I left for uni, and gave my brother strict instructions on how and when to turn off the oven. When I came home in the evening, the oven, the house, and the stew were all fine. He’s a clever boy.

Once it’s cooked, you’re supposed to chuck out the celery sticks. I fished them out and was going to chuck them out… but then I remembered that I adore really mushily cooked celery, and ate them. Damn, they’re tasty! All the oxtail flavour soaked into those mushy, mushy sticks. Cook's treat. Don’t throw them out!

I let it sit overnight, and today I got my mum to heat it up and cook some basmati rice while I went to yoga in the afternoon. (Yes, that’s right, I went to the gym today! Let’s have a parade!) Nigella suggests mashed potatoes or basmati rice. As lovely as mash is, I just wasn’t up for eating something drowned in butter and cream, which is the only way to have mash. Unbuttered mash is just lumpy cardboard. Feral. Don’t bother.

Oxtail with Red Wine and Marjoram

Here it is, sprinkled with parsley, which Nigella says “seems to give it the gloss of a seventeenth-century Dutch painting”. It’s not quite Girl with the Pearl Earring, but it tasted fantastic.

Dad: This smells good… takes one bite… Oh wow..! The flavour…yum… this is definitely in the top five of Nigella recipes.

It was so awesome! It tastes just like a proper stew should. And given the freezing cold weather, it was perfect. And the oxtail itself is so wonderful, soft, and it comes away from the bone so easily. I actually regret not making it in full quantities. We’ve got some leftover, but it’d be great to have a decent amount to stash in the freezer for upcoming dinners. Oh well…

Ok, onto the Rhubarb and Muscat Jelly. Or as I’ve come to call it, the Vagina Jelly. Nigella says not to make it in a ring mould, because once it’s set and shining and gently wobbling, the jelly’s pink colour “makes it looks slightly gynaecological”. Well, as soon as I read that, I knew I just had to make it in a ring mould! A pink copper one, with flower patterns around the top, no less. I made it last night with the rhubarb I bought yesterday and carried around in my bag all day.

Poached Rhubarb

This jelly is made from the drained juices of rhubarb poached in the oven with water, sugar and orange juice. I decided to use half the rhubarb pulp in a rhubarb trifle (coming soon), and freeze the remainder. The juices are mixed with some muscat (we had an old bottle lying around, from the seventies I’m sure, which happened to have just the right amount of liquid in it!)

Jelly elements - heating the liquid in the small pan, remaining liquid in the big jug, and pulp in the sieve.

I’d never used leaf gelatine before, and was excited to find it at King and Godfree (gourmet foodstore near uni) yesterday. Here’s a picture of it soaking in water if you’ve never seen it before. It looks like plastic. Once it had softened, I squeezed it out and whisked it into the heated red liquid in the small pan, then combined it with the remaining liquid in the big jug.

Then I poured the liquid into the well-lubed pan (I used heaps of oil cos I was afraid it wouldn't come out cleanly), and let it sit in the fridge overnight.

And here it is! Gorgeous! I never thought that we were a jelly type of family, but we loved it. It's got a very deep toned flavour, but isn't overly sweet. Fabulicious.

Rhubarb and Muscat Jelly

Tthe next rhubarb dessert we're having is the Rhubarb, Muscat and Mascarpone Trifle. You need to make another Vagina Jelly to go in this one, in the same quantity. The trifle recipe serves 12-14 (GASP!), so I'm halving it. There's no way we're gonna be able to eat that much trifle! Thus, rather than getting another whole kilo of rhubarb and starting all over again, I decided that we'd only eat half the jelly tonight (actually, we could have easily finished it, if I'd let that happen...). The remainder will be melted down, and used in the trifle, thus enabling me to have it both ways.

1 comment:

domesticgoddess said...

hey! mmm, the oxtail stew sounds delicious.

oh, and the jelly looks fantastic... vagina moulds are the way forward. i'll def be trying it. and love the colour- the pink looks good enough to eat :)