I love rich stews and the tradition of steak and kidney rarely disappoints. Sometimes it is nice to do something that is richer still, and this recipe should do the trick by adding oxtail to the mix.
Normally, with my standard steak and kidney pudding, I use lambs kidneys or beef kidney as I love the gravy they produce, but here I am using pigs kidneys as it balances nicely with the oxtail. This recipe takes a considerable time to cook, though the method is pretty basic, so a good one for the weekend. It is a warming feast of a dish that works well with new potatoes and peas – good basic fair that is still welcome on the occasional chilly evening we get in spring. So, to work.
Slice the onion very thinly and cross cut a couple of times to make thin, short onion strands. Chop the carrot thinly and the celery stick.
Heat up a couple of tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan (big enough for the entire dish) and fry the onion, carrot and celery till soft and golden. Remove with a slotted spoon.
Slice the mushrooms thinly and fry in the same pan till just soft. Remove.
Fry the oxtail, three pieces at a time. You may need to add a tiny bit more oil. Fry till well browned and remove.
Fry the steak and kidney till brown then return the veg, mushrooms and the oxtail. Continue frying for a few minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the beef stock – it should not drown the ingredients completely.
Turn very low, put on the lid tightly and cook for around 2 hours till the oxtail is soft.
Remove from the stove and let it cool for an hour till you can handle the oxtail pieces.
Remove the oxtail and with a very sharp trimming knife, cut away the meat and return to the pan. Don’t add too much of the fat!
Season to taste. You don’t need herbs with this, just some salt and a little pepper – the rich meats will do it all!
Continue cooking with the lid on for another 30 minutes – remember, all very slow!
Make up dumplings using twice as much flour to suet and a bit of salt. Add water very, very slowly and mix till you have a firm dough. It is better to do this bit by bit as it is surprising how little water it can take.
Roll up about 12 small dumplings out of the mix and lay on the surface of the stew. Put the lid back on and cook for another 30 minutes to an hour till the dumplings have swollen and the stock has been absorbed leaving a thick stew.
Serve with peas and boiled potatoes.
You may want to play around with the balance of the meats to get the taste you want. This dish benefits from simple ingredients, it is all about getting the most out of great local produce without over dressing it.