Tails a Complete Guide

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For anyone interested in slow cookery little beats oxtails as an ideal introduction to braises, casseroles and soups. Price wise they are a real bargain, they make a great stock for a soup or braise and any leftovers make for a perfect potted meat or terrine.

The tail is cut across into chunks, work on getting roughly four or five good thick pieces before the tail tapers down too thinly. If you are butchering a whole tail yourself do not waste the tail end pieces as these can be added to the stock to add flavour and help thicken the sauce. For the home cook I would recommend buying pre jointed pieces, sectioning an oxtail requires knowledge of where to cut along with a heavy bladed knife or cleaver and a thick butchers block to cut it on.

The great thing about oxtail apart from its price is the amount of gelatine it contains. As the pieces cook, the connective tissues of the meat release the gelatine into the stock or sauce enriching and thickening it at the same time. The result is a wonderful, full flavoured stew with pieces of meat falling away from the bone.

Before cooking soak the tailpieces overnight in cold water and pat dry before dusting with seasoned flour. Always brown the pieces well to give maximum flavour and colour to the finished dish.

Pigs tails are rarely used, they can be chopped up and added to a soup or braise as they are full of gelatine.


Content and picture Miles Collins