Ever since I was a child, I have loved oxtail. My mother used oxtail in her pho (Vietnamese beef noodle soup) to give the broth a richer flavour. She would ask us if we wanted oxtail in our bowls and my answer was always yes! There is a wonderful flavour from oxtail that you can’t get from any other cut of meat.
Twenty years on, with a pot belly and a very uneven beard, I was at a restaurant with Steph when I came across oxtail pasta on the menu. The fond memories came flooding back into my big head, including those times where everyone politely declined oxtail with their pho while I was in my corner gnawing at one like a savage. Fate had decided tonight was going to be a culinary journey back to the good ol’ days.
When I took the first bite, I remember thinking… this is pressing all the right buttons! The little fat kid inside of me began doing cartwheels and Toyota ad jumps, but on the outside, I kept it cool of course. I proceeded to taste the other dishes without giving out any emotion. However, secretly I was completely sold on the restaurant after only tasting one flippin’ dish!
On the way home, Steph and I had a long discussion on how they managed to get such a prominent oxtail flavour throughout the sauce. Imagine two very average cooks trying to re-engineer a restaurant quality dish. Any half decent cook listening to the conversation would have slammed their head against a fry pan so many times it would have turned into a wok!
That night, I decided it was my public duty to defend the fry pan and lead the resistance against the impending scourge of woks and flat faces. Ladies and gentlemen, through a lot of tears, a bunch of unimpressed dinner guests and a small fortune in a swear jar, I give you my Re-Engineered Slow Cooked Oxtail with Angel Hair Pasta!
Slow Cooked Oxtail with Angel Hair Pasta
- 1.5 kg of oxtail
- Water for par boiling and slow cooking
- 3 carrots, peeled and roughly cut
- 2 stalks of celery, roughly cut
- 1 onion, halved
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 700 ml of passata
- 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 3 teaspoons of sugar
- 500 g of angel hair pasta
- 1/2 cup of chopped parsley
- Par boil the oxtail for 15 mins to release all the scum. Be sure to have enough water to completely cover the oxtail.
- Remove the oxtail from the pot and clean under a tap.
- Clean the pot and add more water. Bring the water to the boil.
- Add oxtail, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, bay leaves, salt and pepper to the boiling water.
- Turn down the heat, and let the pot simmer partially covered for 4 hours. At this point, the fat will rise to the surface off the stock. It is up to you how much fat to skim off but I advise to at least keep some to add more richness to the sauce.
- Check the pot every hour to ensure that the oxtail is submersed. Do not put in any more water after 2.5 hours.
- After 4 hours, remove the oxtail and put aside to cool.
- Strain the remaining liquid into a bowl and pour the stock back into the pot.
- Boil down the stock as much as you can without completely evaporating it. Try to aim within the vicinity of 100 – 150 ml.
- Grab a clean non-stick pot/pan and add the passata, tomato paste and sugar. Simmer on a low heat.
- Remove the meat from the oxtail. Try to keep the meat in small chunks rather than mashing it up into strands.
- Add the oxtail meat and the concentrated stock to the sauce.
- Cook the pasta in salted boiling water. Always remember to have plenty of water and swirl your pasta to prevent them from sticking to each other.
- Check the seasoning for your sauce and adjust accordingly.
- Par boiling the oxtail can be skipped if you are short on time but there will be bits of gunk floating in your sauce.
- Reducing the stock as much as you can will allow your tomato sauce to be thicker. If you find your sauce to be too thin, let the sauce simmer until you get the desired consistency.
- I highly recommend using a non-stick pot/pan for the sauce to avoid the oxtail burning at the bottom.
- It is at your discretion whether to serve the dish with the sauce mixed through or over the pasta. In my opinion, the dish looks better with the sauce mixed through.