I also remember, quite clearly, that we all enjoyed the stew (or whatever it was) and would have eaten it again.
So it was with these mixed memories, that I decided to tackle oxtail.
You'll have to forgive me if I'm a bit naieve, but I was under the impression that oxtail was "one of the cheaper cuts of beef" that was affordable. Now I do understand that beef isn't cheap - but I kind of expected a cow's tail to be on the cheap side of affordable. Not £5.95 for a kilo - and a kilo of what amounts to probably 600g of bone. We didn't even get an entire tail for our kilogram of pieces - and a considerable part of that kilogram was from the sharp end of the tail, as opposed to the meaty end!
Is it any wonder that I keep being led to the conclusion that, as a consumer, we're busily being fleeced by butchers and supermarkets alike? Would it have killed them to have made sure that kilogram of oxtail came from the meaty end of the tail?
(There is a small voice in my head which is currently saying "I can't believe I'm talking about a cow's tail").
So, anyway, back to the cooking process.
We were having the Braised Oxtail for our Sunday dinner and, as such, hubby was in charge. However, he finds the trimming up of meat to be a bit of a trial - and oxtail is a bit of a leery thing to have to trim. Well, it is so obviously what it is - a cow's tail. I, on the other hand, quite enjoy trimming up meat - so I set to with my lovely sharp knives and realised quite early on that there wasn't a great deal of meat on these pieces. I crossed my fingers and didn't say anything - I was hoping that it might turn out to be more, when it came to taking it off of the bone.
We were using the slow cooker to do the majority of the cooking, which it did very well.
When it came to removing the meat from the bones, it was a relatively easy task as the slow cooker had worked it's magic and the meat was butter soft and tender. We were intending on putting the meat back with the gravy, so speed wasn't so much of an issue as I can remember it being for my Mum, when she was cursing the fiddly business at dishing up time.
However, what we were left with for our £5.95, was a tea plate full of small pieces of meat, some with a jellified structure still attached (although I did my best to remove as much of that as I could) and some lovely gravy. So this was supposed to be an economical cut? I SO don't think so! Especially when you consider that the same butcher was selling Silverside for £5.95 a kilogram! Comparing what you get at the end of the cooking process highlights just how rubbish the oxtail was, value-wise.
We considered quickly grilling up a few sausages to go with the oxtail, but considered that £6 was probably quite enough to have spent on the meat for a single Sunday dinner with no hope of leftovers.
Hubby did a cracking job with the assembly of the dinner, cooking the veggies and beating the gravy into submission. In fact, I'd say that the gravy was by far the best part of the whole oxtail experience. I kept the leftovers of gravy and had it the following day for lunch over some fried rice.
I can tell you one thing though - we won't be buying oxtail ever again. Not unless it goes down in price considerably - and I can't see that happening any time soon. Especially not when you can buy 1kg of Silverside for the same amount and get two dinners out of it!
However, I have given the recipe we followed below, as if you're considering tackling oxtail and have a slow cooker, it is one of the better and more economical ways of cooking it. Lord knows, you'll need it to be economical!
BRAISED OXTAIL (feeds 2 although we did stretch it to 3)
1 medium onion, sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
1kg oxtail joints, trimmed of fat
2-3 large carrots, sliced
1 bouquet garni
250ml beef stock (from a cube is fine)
25g plain flour
1 tsp redcurrant jelly
1 small glass red wine.
1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion until light golden brown, then transfer to the slow cooker and turn it on to low.
2. Add the oxtail to the frying pan and cook until lightly browned. Drain on kitchen paper then add to the slow cooker. You may need to do this in batches.
3. Add the carrots, bouquet garni and stock to the slow cooker and turn up to High. Cook for 6 hours.
4. An hour before the end of cooking, mix the flour with a little water then stir into the gravy along with the redcurrant jelly and the glass of wine.
5. Once the hour is up, serve with potatoes and vegetables.