The herd is home!

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After a busy few days, the herd are all home, Florence was on site to welcome home our gentle bull who stomped off the trailer with a disdainful air, harrumphing at the indignity of it all.  Florence spent a few happy minutes imitating him before heading inside to raid Grandpa’s biscuit tin,  leaving big brother and Daddy to deal with the mud.

Special orders are coming in thick and fast for Christmas beef, just in time to inform our butcher of how we would like our most recent order cut.

The “Perky Turkeys” are fattening up nicely.  Eating an amazing amount of food and happily prancing about in their large pen.  A demonstration in persuasion that ignorance is indeed bliss.

A fabulous meeting on Saturday with Darren of Gorleston Veg Box company – more on this later as deserving of a mention in its own right – but pleased to meet someone with similar values, flying the flag for buying local food.

  By far the nicest part of the week was being treated to oxtail stew last night, in front of a blazing fire, with roast potatoes straight from our allotment. Mr Perks responsible for all the cooking, so much tastier than I dared hope and he washed up! Bliss! Oxtail is a wonderfully economical and flavoursome cut of beef but is often overlooked as people are unsure what to do with it. This is Mr Perks’ favourite tried and tested recipe. Would love to hear some of yours!

Recipe: Fabulously Tasty Oxtail Stew

Ingredients:
• 2.5 kg oxtail, chopped into 4cm chunks
• sea salt
• freshly ground black pepper
• olive oil
• 2 medium leeks
• 2 stalks of celery
• 4 medium carrots
• a few sprigs of fresh thyme
• a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
• 4 fresh bay leaves
• 2 heaped tablespoons plain flour
• 2 x 400 g tins of plum tomatoes
• 275 ml red wine
• 1 litre beef stock
• Worcestershire sauce

Method
• Preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF/gas 7. Place a large roasting tray in the oven to preheat.

Carefully remove the hot tray from the oven, then add the oxtail. Season and drizzle over a lug of olive oil, then toss to coat and place in the hot oven for around 20 minutes, or until golden and caramelized.

Meanwhile, trim and halve the leeks and celery lengthways, then chop into rough 2cm chunks. Peel and chop the carrots into 2cm pieces, then place into a large ovenproof casserole pan over a medium-low heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Pick, roughly chop and add the thyme and rosemary leaves, then add the bay and cook for around 20 minutes, or until soft and sweet, stirring frequently.

Meanwhile, remove the oxtail from the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 170ºC/325ºF/gas 3.

Add the flour to the veg, stirring well to combine, then pour in the tomatoes and wine. Add the oxtail and any roasting juices, cover with the beef stock and stir well. Turn the heat up to high and bring to the boil, then pop the lid on and place in the hot oven for around 5 hours, or until the meat falls away from the bone, stirring every hour or so and adding a splash of water to loosen, if needed.

Remove the pan from the oven and leave to cool for about 10 minutes. Using rubber gloves, strip the meat from the bones and return to the pan, discarding the bones. Add a good splash of Worcestershire sauce, season to taste and enjoy either with creamy mash and seasonal steamed greens, or freshly cooked tagliatelle and a sprinkling of parmesan.

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