November 2010

Oxtail Stew

Joanna Schaffalitzky — 

Prepartion Time
Total Time

When it was announced that the theme forNovember's Irish Foodie Cookalong was to be Winter Warmers, this was the first dish to spring to mind. It's rich, unctuous and full of flavour, perfect for a cold winter's day.

I was first introduced to this dish by my dad who had received the recipe from a business acquaintance. I was a little unsure of it at first due to the fact that it really is made from a cow's tail, which is understandably a little off putting. However, the first taste of the stew changed my mind, it was gorgeous!

The best this about this dish is that once you've done the prep work, you just pop the pot into the oven or on a low heated hob and leave it cook. I wouldn't recommend it for those of squeamish disposition though as the spine bones might freak them out a little!

Oxtails (Your local craft butcher should stock them)
Baby Turnips
Pearl Onions
Bacon Lardons
Chicken Stock
Pale Ale (I used Sierra Nevada Pale Ale)
Bouquet Garni
Garlic (divided 2 and 2)
4 cloves
Oil or Butter
for frying
Salt & Pepper
to season
Other Requirements

A large pot, a chopping board, a sharp knife, a bowl or other dish to hold the browned meat in and a frying pan.

As with all stews the first thing to do here is to prepare your vegetables. Peel and dice the carrots and baby turnips.

The pearl onions are a little more difficult than normal onions to peel but persevere as they are delicious. If you can't get pearl onions substitute in 3 diced shallots. Roughly chop 2 of the cloves of garlic. Put all your veg to one side in easy reaching distance.

Put a little oil into the bottom of your stew pot and when hot, add in the bacon lardons. Cook until golden brown then remove to bowl or dish that you have standing by.

Now add all the vegetables into the pot and allow to cook and soften for 5 minutes. Remove from the pot and put to one side with the bacon.

Finally place the pieces of oxtail into the pot and brown all over. You'll probably have to do this in batches. Once all the pieces are brown, leave to one side with vegetables and bacon.

With a high heat under the pot, add in the chicken stock and deglaze the pan by using the hot liquid and a spatula or wooden spoon to unstick and dissolve the delicious bits at the bottom of the pot.

Add the pale ale to the pot and add the meat back in, being careful not to splash too much. Finally put the vegetables and bacon lardons back into the pot.

Add in your bouquet garni, season with salt and pepper to taste and bring to the boil.

Put the pot into the oven or put on a low heat on the hob for 3 hours. If you are leaving it on a gas hob to cook, I would advise that you use a diffuser to prevent burning at the bottom of the pot as well as the occasional stir.

While the stew is cooking, chop up the mushrooms and crush the remaining 2 cloves of garlic.

Heat a little butter in a frying pan. Add the mushrooms and the garlic.

Cook the mushrooms until golden brown. After the stew has cooked for 3 hours, add the mushrooms and cook for a further 15 - 20 mins.

Serve the finished stew with creamy mashed potato or hunks of crusty bread.

Congratulations Claire and Robert!

Joanna Schaffalitzky — 

As those of you who follow my Twitter feed will know, I have been working on a very special cake for a very special occasion for the last month or so.

On Monday my friend Robert married his sweetheart, Claire in Belfast City Hall. As the wedding was organised in quite a short lengh of time and on a budget, I offered to make their wedding cake for them. They graciously accepted my offer, even though it would be my first ever wedding cake.

It consisted of four layers, the 12 and 8 inch layers were made of madiera and the 10 and 6 inch layers were fruit cake. I made the fruit cake 2 weeks in advance and the madiera on the Friday before the wedding. I iced the whole thing using ready to roll fondant and marzipan on the Sunday.

This is the cake during a practise stack up on Sunday afternoon. My mum helped by making the bows and sewing them onto the ribbon on the cake.

As you can see from this picture, on the day I sealed up the joins between the layers using royal icing to create a smoother looking cake.

All in all I think I did a pretty good job for my first time making such a large cake and for my first time using fondant icing. The couple were happy with the cake and I got a lot of compliments on how well both types of layer tasted.

I'm so glad that Claire and Robert allowed me to be part of their day and I'd like to wish them the best of luck and happiness in their future together.