There are few meals as satisfying to come home to on a cold damp winters evening than a bowl of piping hot oxtail stew, made the previous day and placed in the fridge overnight to consolidate its flavours.
I fail to follow any particular recipe when making stew like this beyond a few general themes. The first is to gently simmer the oxtail covered in water, often with some black pepper and bay leaves, until the meat is falling off the bone and the water has extracted a thick gelatin rich stock from the meat and bones. The longer the better but three or four hours makes a good broth. I then add a mixture of chopped vegetables, in this case swede, parsnip, onion and leek which is brought to the boil and then reduced to a simmer. When the oxtail is cool enough to handle I separate the meat form the bones and add this back into the stew. The oxtail bones can be used to make another batch of stock and so are worth keeping.
Barley is a favourite and traditionally Scottish addition to bulk up a meat stew such as this. When I remember to plan ahead I like to use pot barley, which is best soaked overnight in water and then added in to cook along with the vegetables. Pot barley holds together better after cooking than pearl barley and the extra bran left of the grain gives it a nuttier taste.
After about an hour and a half cooking the vegetables and and barley are cooked through and if I have some kale I’ll add a handful into the stew and cook for another few minutes until the kale is cooked.
A decent sized pot of stew like this can keep me fed for several meals. As seen by the sea salt in the photo I generally prefer to add salt to my taste when eating rather than adding much while it is cooking.