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Recipe for stunning steak and oxtail casserole

Beef cattle

Beef cattle

When I have the energy I cook in advance. The kitchen fills with steam for a day. Danny is banished. We end up with a pile of ready or almost ready meals frozen in thin packs. I used to freeze in large cubes and realised that thin, grip sealed bags would be a far better option. In an emergency that can be unfrozen in a frying pan – very, very low heat and savoured relatively quickly. Ideally the food unfreezes at room temperature over a day.

This meal wasn’t frozen for later. We ate it joyously, with seconds, for five nights running until the pot was scraped clean. I’m not a same every night sort of girl but this was so good that I’d happily eat it every day for a month. It was mellow and delicious, and worked well with every veg that we cooked with it. The Min Pins finally sampled it when Danny washed out the bowl with boiling water and added it to their supper. We have two very picky eaters here. Older dogs that just don’t guzzle. That particular evening, the bowls were licked clean.

As you may know, I imagined for years that my mum adored oxtail. We hinted that we were creating a special recipe just for her. When she arrived and we announced the dish she visibly stiffened.
“How lovely. What a treat.”
Many months later we discovered her extent of oxtail loathing. But she did like this dish.
“I think that the oxtail that I tasted was basically just that. No herbs, seasoning and vegetables. This is delicious!”
My mother has very good manners. But actually we all loved our oxtail recipe.

Oxtail is strangely sweet and although our oxtail dish is good, I reckon that this one works far better. The bones of the oxtail make a great gravy and the combination of stewing steak and oxtail is sublime, the sum of the whole is far better than the individual parts. The trick with these sorts of cuts is to simmer them for a long, long time. This dish takes at least 5 hours to mature and give of its best. And this is where the slow cooker or crock pot steps in to help! It could also be cooked in our giant thermos.
This dish, like most casseroles, improves if it is allowed to cool completely so it’s an ideal recipe for cooking in advance.

Recipe for stunning steak and oxtail casserole for 10-12 hungry people


1 kilo of oxtail
1 kilo of stewing steak sliced into 2.5 / 1 inch chunks
1 medium red onion diced
6 cherry tomatoes or equivalent bigger ones (this ingredient makes all the difference)
2 large carrots – skinned and chopped
1 medium parsnip – skinned and chopped
Half a teaspoon of anchovy sauce
2 flat teaspoons of dried thyme
Half a teaspoon of Balsamic vinegar
2-3 tablespoons of plain flour seasoned with a pinch of salt and a good twist of ground black pepper
Hot beef stock to just cover the ingredients. I used a litre and two beef stock cubes.


Place the onion, carrots, tomatoes and parsnip in the base of the slow cooker.
Roll the sliced stewing steak and the oxtail pieces in the seasoned flour and place on top of the vegetables.
Add the thyme, Balsamic vinegar and anchovy sauce to the hot stock and pour over the meat and vegetables. This stock needs to just cover the meat.
Set the heat setting to high and when the liquid is simmering well (in about an hour’s time) stir well and turn the heat setting to low for at least five hours.
When everything is cooked (I check every hour after four hours) remove the oxtail pieces with a slotted spoon and take the meat off the bones. Discard the bones (the Min Pins love these) and put the oxtail meat back into the casserole.
If you cook this the day before put the casserole in the fridge and the fat will set so that it can easily be removed.
Serve with fresh green vegetables and mashed potatoes.

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  1. thanks for the recipe, I will be trying this with our local highland beef that I purchased this morning. I’ve not tried highland cattle before so am intrigued to see if there is much difference between this and other beef.

  2. What about a good glug of red wine as well.

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