16 Oct 2014

Hestia...has a Cheap Date

Despite how it looks, it tasted BRILLIANT
See how the sauce has reduced down by LOADS?

The joy of having two butchers' shops in town is that when you spot something unusual nestling amongst the sausages and beef olives, there's usually a cheery soul in a white coat who can tell you how to cook it.

This is what happened on Friday when I moseyed into MacQueen's and spotted a frisbee-sized portion of....something interesting.  That 'something' turned out to be a jointed oxtail.  Well, strictly speaking COW'S TAIL.  But let's not quibble.  It was, David assured me, a very tasty cut of meat. Which seems to be the case with the inexpensive cuts, I think; the hard-working muscles (such as an ever-flicking tail) are most delicious - but they need aeons of time to cook them.

When I 'fessed-up that I didn't know what to do with an oxtail, the butcher clued me up on a long, slow bit of stove-top cooking.  It was perfect, other that I was supposed to leave it until the following day to devour.  Well,  I was hoping for something for Friday evening's tea....so I bought it and came home and scoured the intertubes for oxtail recipes and got this which is a Delia recipe (ie idiot proof)

a jointed oxtail
1 x 440ml can of Guinness
1 x large tin of butter beans
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 rounded tablespoon of seasoned flour
2 large onions, chopped roughly
4 whole garlic cloves, peeled (keep whole)
2 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
12 oz mushrooms
1 pint beef stock (I used a cube)
salt and pepper

Get your oven on to Gas Mark 2, 300F (150C)

1  Un-snip the elastics holding the bits of tail together.

2  Put the seasoned flour into a plastic bag (freezer type bag) and pop in your tail pieces, coating each one with flour.  Put the bag aside - you'll need the flour later.

3  In a large pan, put in the oil and fry the ox tail pieces until coloured-up.

4  Transfer the pieces to a casserole dish.

5  Fry off the onions in the same pan as you browned-off the ox-tail until going brown at the edges.

6  Lift them out with slotted spoon and transfer to casserole dish with oxtail.

7  Drain your canned butter beans (or cannellini beans etc) and add to casserole.  If you are doing the beans from scratch, you are going to need to soak them - which will take aaaaaages.  Just use a can!

8  Add bay leaves and sprigs of thyme too (you might want to tie these together.  If you do, do not use blue string: see Bridget Jones)

9  Get plenty of salt and pepper in.  Or a little chilli if you are inclined!

10  Take your frying pan and, to whatever is left in that pan of the oil, add the flour that was in the freezer bag and the Guinness and the stock - give it a jolly good whisk to get everything going.

11 Add it to the casserole dish.

12 Slam in the oven for 2-2.5 hours.

13  Add the mushrooms to the casserole (I didn't bother with mushrooms cos Sonshine doesn't like them)

14 Slam everything back in the oven for another hour.

There is some fat on the top of the dish - spoon off if you can.

Pull all the meat off the ox-tail bones with two forks to serve.  I served the meat and the beans/mushrooms with plenty of the gravy on a fluffy cloud of garlicky mashed potatoes.

Photography skillz: big fat nil
But really tasty dish!

Sonshine pronounced it delicious, and indeed it was.  Fed two of us with plenty beans and sauce left over for sloppy joes on Saturday for lunch :-)

And cheap!!

The oxtail cost £4.30, the beans cost 30p, the Guinness was about £2 and the rest was stuff that was just lying around.  To be fair, the Guinness was also something just lying around and was out of date! Not sure whether the gaseous emissions later in the evening were caused by the Guinness or the beans.....

So what is this 'cheap date' that I speak of in my blog title? Well, I wondered whether anyone else had any recipes that were cheap and tasty that they wanted to share.  Perhaps even using some odd cuts of meat....or inexpensive vegetables (what the hell CAN you do with an aubergine?!) and we could sort of link the posts together? A foodie blog hop for cheap nosh?!

If you want to play - at any time - just add the link to your Cheap Date post in the comments below.


  1. Top tip: To avoid lumps when you're making a roux-based sauce (frying flour in butter/oil then adding liquid), make sure the liquid is hot or add it in iddy-biddy quantities so it can heat up before mixing it in to the floury paste :D

  2. You can buy beef olives in your butchers ?? *amazed* I have to make my own :(

    1. MacQueens especially go the extra mile and make lots of things so that all a busy person has to do is slam it in the oven. I think it's a great way to ensure that your family gets good food, but it's ready made. Them's enterprising butchers. BTW - both our butchers sell beef olives ready made. You want to be changing your butcher;-D

    2. We have only 1 butcher in the town centre :( But they are luffly and have bones for my little puppydog as well as steak. For me :D

  3. Ooh, aubergine. Great for moussaka, can be nice deep fried in a very light flour batter, I also used to do a pasta dish with them, some red wine, and almonds :)

  4. Aubergine Parmigiana.... aubs, motzerella, tomato sauce, fresh basil and parmasan....... super simple supper and how I got my boy to eat aubergines!!!x

  5. Hi Alison! Oh haven't had ox tails for such a long time and they're an all time favourite too, I wish we had a decent butcher close by! Thanks for stopping by and your kind comment too xxx


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