So my sister called me out last time for describing a succulent oxtail component to my Stuffed Plantain Nuggets and never actually making it. For those of you who may have shared her thoughts – and her insults – I have a ludicrously tender peace offering.
Oxtail – in case you missed the bold header – is on the menu today. Slowly cooked until it comes sliding off the bone. And to coat this luscious meat, I’ve come up with a very creamy and very spicy tomato stew.
As a fan of many cream sauces, I’ve been eager to play up the cream factor of traditional Nigerian stew for months now. I finally did last night and………………………..Oh I’m sorry. That was me catching some drool. It. Was. Amazing. I seriously had to slap my hand or there wouldn’t have been anything left to plate.
For the carb component of the dish, I was initially going to make a rice cake but had a sweet potato lying around that I couldn’t let go to waste. This, too, was a bit of an experiment, but I managed to reach the ooey gooey center encased in a firm crust that I was going for.
I must say that I was overly pleased with how well this dish turned out. The tenderlicious oxtail (yes, we’re making up words now), spicy cream stew and gooey sweet potato cakes worked perfectly together. And the food coma wasn’t bad either. Here’s the recipe:
Yeilds 4 Servings
1kg (2.2lbs) Oxtail, cut into large chunks
Salt, freshly ground black pepper and thyme, to taste
Oil, as needed
1 large onion, roughly sliced
1 habanero pepper, roughly sliced
100g white wine
1 liter heated chicken stock, to cover (may also top off with water if your stock doesn’t completely cover)
2 bay leaves
Springs of thyme
Maggi (or Knorr) cube
Creamy Tomato Stew
150 g plum tomato (fresh or canned)
½ a large onion
1 bell pepper
1-2 habanero peppers
2 Maggi cubes (or 1 Knorr cube)
Vegetable oil, as needed
½ a large onion, chopped
50 g tomato paste
150g heavy cream
100g oxtail cooking liquid
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Sweet Potato Cakes
4 sweet potatoes, peeled and evenly cubed
Oxtail cooking liquid, to cover
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
10g fresh cilantro, thinly sliced
1. Preheat oven to 160°C (325°F)
2. Season oxtail chunks with salt, pepper and thyme. Heat oil in a pan until very hot and sear oxtail until golden brown.
3. In a stockpot, simmer onion over medium-low heat until lightly browned. Add habanero and cook another 5 minutes or so. Remove excess oil and add white wine. When wine reduces by at least half, add oxtail and stock to cover. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer. Add bay leaves, thyme and maggi. Cover pot and place in preheated oven.
4. After 1 hour, reduce heat to 150°C (300°F) and cook for an additional 2.5-3 hours, checking every 40 minutes to make sure oxtail is still covered by liquid.
5. When ready, remove oxtail from pot, but keep in enough cooking liquid to cover so oxtail doesn’t loose moisture. Set some cooking liquid aside for tomato stew and sweet potatoes, and transfer the remaining to a large saucepan and begin to reduce over high heat.
6. Blend plum tomato, onion, bell and habanero peppers with about 50g of oxtail cooking liquid to make it smooth. Pour mix into saucepan and boil for about 15 minutes to dry out. Having lost almost all of its liquid, the puree should be fairly thick and have a deeper red color. Add maggi cubes at this point.
7. In a pot, heat oil and lightly brown onions. Lower heat and add about 50g of tomato paste. Allow to cook out, but be careful not to burn.
8. Add puree and stir. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until color reddens further.
9. Once cooking liquid is just thick enough to nap the back of a spoon, stir in heavy cream and reduce a little further.
10. Add oxtail sauce to stew and simmer an additional 10 minutes to marry flavors.
11. Transfer oxtail cream stew to blender and blend till smooth, adding extra cooking liquid as needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
12.Put sweet potato in a pot and cover with oxtail cooking liquid. Boil potatoes until easily pierced. Remove from liquid, dry off a bit, and mash together with butter. Make sure mashed potato is not too moist. If too moist, sprinkle some flour and cook off raw flour taste over heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste and spread over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Put in freezer until it sets, but is not frozen. Cut cake into roughly 2”x2” inch squares.
13. To finish, heat oxtail in cooking liquid over medium-high heat. Heat oil in a pan over high heat and fry cakes until golden brown. Drain of excess oil on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. In a saucepan, heat cream stew and stirring to distribute heat. Add a little bit of cooking liquid if necessary. Take off heat once it starts to boil.
14. Plate as you’d like and garnish with cilantro.