I've admired a particular recipe in the second Moro cookbook, 'Casa Moro' for some time. I've studied the accompanying photograph of the finished dish more times than is probably healthy, and often wondered what it tastes like. But, I've just never got around to cooking it. The dish is 'Rabo De Toro con Rioja' or for those who donta speaka Español (Who me?) it's 'Oxtail with Rioja and Chorizo'.
The reason why so far I've only admired this dish from afar, but never actually cooked it is the fact that it involves two cooking sessions on subsequent days. Two hours in the pot stewing on day one, a night in the fridge to improve the flavours, and then another 30 mins cooking with the chorizo on the second day. Call me lazy, but it just seemed like too much effort.
But, for all that, I love Oxtail and the recipe is always there, lurking in the (admittedly) mostly empty recesses of my mind, just waiting for the chance to burst forth into my kitchen. That opportunity finally arrived last week when Abel & Cole sent me some Organic Oxtail to try.
The Oxtail, seemingly delivered at the crack of dawn (I noticed the box left outside the front door as I left for work) was as before (see Chicken) well protected in a polystyrene cool box with frozen gel packs to keep it cool. So far, so good. The actual Oxtail was a selection in a pre-packed plastic package, labelled with the farm which supplied it (Manor Farm, which the A&C website informs me is in Wiltshire).
Studying the contents, the major drawback about ordering something like this online became evident. Everyone likes nice meaty chunks of Oxtail, If I was buying it at the butchers - that's what I'd pick out. But the A&C package had a few large chunks but also some smaller pieces, which I certainly wouldn't have chosen at the butchers. I know it's probably a waste thing, and it's the whole tail - but, and this is the point, when ordering meat online through A&C or one of their competitors, until it arrives you have no idea what pieces your actually getting.
That small niggle aside, onto the actual recipe:-
Oxtail with Rioja and Chorizo
The Day Before....
3 Tbs Olive Oil
1.5Kg Oxtail sliced into 5cm chunks
1 Carrot, cut into chunks
1 Onion, quartered
1 Celery stick, cut into chunks
5 Black Peppercorns
2 Bay Leaves
4 Sprigs of fresh Thyme
2 Garlic Cloves
1 Bottle red Rioja
10 Parsley Stalks
Sea salt and black pepper
On the Day of Eating....
2 Tbs Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, finely diced
1 Medium Carrot, finely diced
120g Cooking Chorizo, cut into 1cm rounds.
2 Tbs Plain Flour
1 Tsp Sweet Paprika
1/4 Tsp hot Paprika (or dried red chilli flakes).
1/4 Tsp Fennel Seeds, ground.
1-2 Tbs Tomato Puree
The day before, heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium to high heat. Season the Oxtail, and brown well on all sides. (You'll probably need to do this in batches).
Remove the Oxtail from the pan, putting to one side, and pour off the excess fat, before adding the carrot, onion and celery.
Fry for 5 minutes until starting to colour and then add the peppercorns, bay, thyme, cloves and garlic.
Fry for 2 minutes.
Return the Oxtail to the pan, add the Rioja and Parsley Stalks and cover with water.
Bring to a gentle simmer on a low heat and cook until tender (around 2 hours or possibly longer) adding water if the liquids boil down below the top of the meat.
The Oxtail is ready when the meat can easily be pulled from the bone, but not so soft it falls off on its own.
Transfer the Oxtail to a bowl, and strain the juices through a sieve over the meat. Cool and put in the fridge overnight.
On the day of eating, remove as much fat as possible from the chilled Oxtail (Don't throw it, put it in a container, freeze it and use it to roast potatoes in perhaps).
Heat the Olive Oil in a large saucepan over a medium to high heat. When hot, add the Onion and Carrot, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the Chorizo and fry for five more minutes. Stir in the flour, fry for a couple more minutes and then add the Paprika's, Fennel Seeds, and Tomato Puree.
Add the Oxtail with its stock to the pan and season with salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
Serve with Mash Potatoes, or as is usual in Spain, Fried Potatoes.
So, there's the recipe. What did it taste like?
Gorgeous. The ultimate comfort food served with Mash, the gravy was rich, the Oxtail extremely tender and falling from the bone. Perfect grub as the nights are getting colder and we start to move into Autumn.
But what was even better, although perhaps slightly risky was, having some cooked Oxtail and loads of the beautiful gravy leftover, pulling the meat from the bone, refrigerating and re-heating the next day. Serving it again with Mash.
I was in two minds about this, as it meant I'd be chilling and re-heating the Oxtail twice - which probably isn't the best idea.....but, and it's a big BUT, it tasted so good. I just couldn't waste it, and thought it was worth the risk. I'm so glad I did, because if anything it tasted even better the second day. The Gravy you get from Oxtail is like nothing else.
So in conclusion, the Moro Recipe is indeed the cracker I suspected, well worth the two day effort. Abel & Cole's Oxtail, was nice, no complaints but being within easy walking distance of two Butchers, It's not something I'd bother ordering online myself. But, if for some reason you don't live near a butchers, are already an A&C customer or are just unable to source Oxtail, then it could well be for you.
Thanks to Abel & Cole for providing the Oxtail.