It took me a while to post this recipe for several reasons. First, I must explain who Peter is! Peter is a very good American friend who came to retire in Paris. And Peter is a true maestro of the kitchen. I am always amazed by his total mastery of our gastronomy. His stew is the best I’ve ever had in my life. And I weigh my words. And it’s been more than thirty years that our dear Peter has been refining his recipe. He agrees today to give us all his secrets without concession and with all his passion and love of our French cuisine. It took me a while to put the recipe online because I made it twice, once with Peter to understand everything and then again at home to explain everything in detail. Then I had to find time to take the pictures and write this long recipe. This one is not complicated, but the details change everything. A homemade broth, oxtail (yes, and it’s quite exquisite!) and small baby onions, we are very close to the boeuf bourguignon (recipe HERE) and yet in the mouth (in both cases) it is an explosion of very different flavors. So thanks to Peter and his partner Peggy, both of whom I adore, for sharing this wonderful recipe with us!
-1 oxtail cut into pieces (the butcher will do it!)
-1 half stalk of celery
-fresh and/or dried rosemary
-1/2 teaspoon sugar
-1 bay leaf
-2 cloves of garlic
-40g of salted butter
-500g of tomato puree (with pieces)
-1 tablespoon of flour
-1 liter of broth (or more, enough to cover the meat!)
-500g of baby onions
-fresh parsley to serve
-2 or 3 stalks of celery
-500ml of beer (all the alcohol will evaporate)
-1.5l of water
-1 kilo of potatoes
Start by preparing the broth, preferably the day before… For this recipe, it would be a shame to go without a homemade broth! Just ask your butcher to give you (or charge a small fee for) some beef bones, cut up is better!
Prepare and wash the celery.
The same goes for onions. Well, it’s not too hard now, is it?
And the carrots? We cut them into pieces!
Heat a little olive oil in a pot and brown the bones on the flat side. Add the vegetables.
Simmer to cook the bones a little, then add the beer.
Add water, salt, pepper and let cook for three hours at a simmer with the lid on.
The broth is ready! I let it cool with all the bones and vegetables. I don’t filter until the next day. Set aside in a cool place until ready to use.
The next day, preferably in the morning if the dish is served in the evening, start preparing the stew. Here is the oxtail! The butcher normally cuts it in sections.
Put the olive oil in a casserole (cast iron or enameled cast iron if you have one!). Heat over high heat. Open the windows!
Add the oxtail pieces to the slice in the hot oil.
Add salt and pepper.
Sear the meat on all sides so that it begins to grill slightly.
When the pieces are well browned on all sides, remove from the pan and set aside on a plate.
Prepare the mirepoix: cut half a celery stalk, half an onion and a carrot (one of the 7!) into small, fine pieces.
Add to the casserole on a fairly high heat (you don’t want it to burn!!).
Always stir with a wooden spoon to cook them in the fat of the meat. Add salt and pepper and sugar.
Add bay leaf and crushed or chopped garlic.
When you reach the limit of burning (you need the juices to be as colored as possible), add the tomato pulp (with pieces).
Let it cook on high heat, scraping the bottom of the dish (this is what will give it that fabulous taste!!).
The water in the tomatoes must evaporate to leave a thick pulp.
When the tomato wants to stick to the bottom of the dish (the naughty one!), punish it with a big piece of salted butter.
When the butter is well incorporated, add the tablespoon of flour.
The whole thing will coagulate quite quickly and stick to the bottom of the dish: it’s perfect! It always adds more taste to the final dish!
Dry this dough as you would a choux pastry. After two or three minutes of this treatment on high heat, add a little broth and mix well to dilute all the juices.
The result is a creamy sauce. Add the oxtail pieces with the juice they have given off.
Finally add 1 or 1.5 liters of broth.
In fact, you have to cover almost all the pieces of meat.
Bring to a simmer.
Here two options:
Option 1: Bake in the oven with cover Simply place in the oven at 140-150°C for 4-5 hours, stirring from time to time. That’s what Peter did.
-Option 2: my oven can’t handle my heavy cast iron casserole, so I cooked on the stove. Just put on minimum heat (a slight simmer should still be present) with the lid on and stir from time to time. In this case, it will still take 4 hours.
I did both versions. The verdict? There is not really a difference… Everyone will be able to choose their own method. In all case I challenge anyone who can recognize one version or the other by taste!
After this cooking, you can let it rest a little before continuing, in this case, outside the fire. Remove the meat from the sauce.
Shell the meat, removing the bone and as much fat as possible. Don’t panic! There will always be plenty of meat left!
Return the meat to the sauce.
To peel spring onions, nothing could be easier!
Simply plunge them into boiling water, with the skin on, for a minute or two.
With a knife, you just have to cut the base a little and the rest goes away by itself! Plop, the onion is peeled! Add the onions.
Peel the remaining carrots and slice them.
Mix well, add fresh or dried rosemary. Taste to adjust seasoning . You can also remove some of the fat that floats in the sauce. For my part: I like fat! But then again, I admit, you can take three or four tablespoons off.
Bring to a simmer again before placing in the oven or continuing to cook over low heat.
Let cook again 1 hour in the oven or on low heat with the lid on in both cases. For my part, again, option 2 because we will cook the potatoes in the oven!
To accompany: put small potatoes with a little olive oil, salt and a few sprigs of fresh (or dried!) rosemary in the oven at 170°C.
Let cook for 40 minutes, prick a knife to check the cooking. If it is not cooked, just continue!
And here is Peter our leader to whom I say a thousand “thank you”!
Serve the stew with the potatoes and some chopped parsley!