Thursday, 24 April 2014
Seared onglet with slow-braised oxtail, white sprouting broccoli, Jersey Royals and wild garlic and tarragon emulsion
In Britain we have been blinkered with what cuts of meat we buy and cook. When it comes to beef, the only steaks that you’ll find lining most supermarket aisles are the same old sirloins, rib-eyes, rumps and fillets. It’s only fairly recently that cuts such as the bavette and onglet have had some much deserved publicity. They pack such an amazing amount of flavour and are only a fraction of the price. Traditionally these unfashionable cuts were butcher’s favourites and would be kept back for them to take home, but more and more they are replacing the usual suspects on pub and restaurant menus. And about time too; this is all old news for bistros on the continent.
I was amazed at quite how far the onglet that I bought went. For less than the price of two decent rib-eye steaks I got a whole kilo, which serves Katie and I for a good 4-5 meals. After I made this dish the meat ended up in a curry, a Vietnamese soup and a salad. This versatility continues in the cooking, and you can either flash fry for very rare and tender or stew it slowly for a few hours until soft and sticky. As you might guess, I cannot recommend it enough. Onglet is slightly less forgiving than the prime cuts though, which is fine if like me you like your steak still mooing, but it can quickly become very tough as it gets towards medium.
Unlike onglet, oxtail has been around for donkeys years and has never really been that fashionable, especially with the younger generations. That’s fine by me though as the prices have stayed low and it always makes for a satisfying and hearty supper. In this dish it adds another texture and reinforces the savoury, beefy flavour. The cooking stock is also reduced down into a thick rich sauce. It is pretty impractical to cook small amounts of oxtail, so I have made a bit more here. The leftovers are great in anything from a sandwich to soups, stews and pies, so it is sure not to go to waste.
The rest of this dish is another celebration of seasonal vegetables. But these play as big a part as the meat in balancing the richness and flavour. And they’re downright delicious to boot. Wild garlic is still about and it is so tempting to include it in absolutely everything. Spring is well and truly in the air now and Jersey Royals are back in the shops. These stunning potatoes are best without too much interference, so I have simply parboiled them before quickly sautéing in the steak juices. Finally the beautiful sprouting broccoli adds some much needed iron to freshen everything up.
For the onglet:
200g onglet steak, trimmed
For the braised oxtail:
800g of oxtail pieces, on the bone
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 leek, roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic, halved
5 sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
2 glasses of red wine
1.5-2 litres of good beef stock
For the white sprouting broccoli:
6 stems of white sprouting broccoli
1 small knob of butter
For the Jersey Royals:
3-4 Jersey Royal potatoes, washed
1 knob of butter
5 sprigs of thyme
For the baby shallots:
3 baby shallots, peeled and kept whole
For the wild garlic and tarragon emulsion:
1 bunch of wild garlic
1 bunch of tarragon, leaves picked
2 egg yolks
1 shallot, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 bay leaves
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
½ a lemon, juice only
To finish the sauce:
The reserved cooking liquid from the oxtail
1 tbsp caster sugar (optional)
1 knob of butter
Start by cooking down the oxtail. Bring the meat to room temperature then coat with a little oil and season well. Heat a large saucepan to a high temperature and quickly brown the oxtail all over and then remove to a plate. Add the chopped vegetables and herbs and lightly colour before pouring in the red wine. Bring to the boil, then return the oxtail to the pan and cover with the stock. Turn the heat down to a simmer, partly cover and cook for 4-5 hours, or until the oxtail falls off the bone. When cooked, strain the liquid into a saucepan and reserve. Discard the vegetables and shred the meat into a bowl. Set aside for finishing later.
While the oxtail is cooking, prepare the other elements of the dish.
Put the Jersey Royals into a small saucepan and cover with cold, well-salted water. Bring to the boil and simmer until just cooked, about 10-15 minutes depending on the size. Drain and rinse well under cold water to stop them cooking, then cut into quarters and set aside.
Heat a small saucepan to a medium-low temperature. Pour in a little oil and slowly cook the baby shallots with a bit of seasoning until golden and tender. Remove from the pan, slice in half and allow to cool.
To make the emulsion, fill a saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Blanche the wild garlic and tarragon leaves for 20 seconds and then transfer to a bowl of cold water. Drain the herbs and pat dry. Make the vinegar reduction by putting the white wine vinegar into a small saucepan with the sliced shallot, garlic, peppercorns and bay and reduce over a moderate heat until only a tablespoon of liquid remains. Strain the liquid and allow to cool. Melt the butter in a separate saucepan, then also cool slightly. Put the egg yolks into a food processor with the cold reduction, a little seasoning and a splash of warm water and blitz well to combine. With the motor still running, very slowly pour in the melted butter until all of it is incorporated and the sauce is thick. Finally add the dried herbs and a squeeze of lemon and blend again until they are well chopped. Pass the sauce through a fine sieve and set aside.
When the oxtail is cooked, use the cooking liquid to make a sauce. Transfer the strained stock into a large frying pan or skillet and reduce right down until thick and sticky; about 15-20 minutes.
When you are ready to finish everything off, heat a heavy frying pan over a high temperature and boil up some salted water in a saucepan.
Season the onglet steak all over and rub with some oil. When the pan is smoking hot add the meat and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side for rare, a touch longer for medium. When cooked, remove to a board to rest for 5-6 minutes.
While the meat is resting finish the other elements of the dish off.
Reheat the sauce and whisk in the butter and sugar (if needed). Put the shredded oxtail into a separate small saucepan and add 2-3 tbsp of the finished sauce and warm through, making sure all of the meat has a nice coating to it.
Add a knob of butter and a little oil to the pan with the steak juices and add the boiled Jersey Royals, thyme sprigs and baby shallots. Season well and cook on a medium heat for a couple of minutes.
Finally boil the sprouting broccoli in the water for a couple of minutes until just tender, then drain and transfer to a bowl. Season and toss with the butter.
To plate up, spoon some of the oxtail meat, potatoes and onions onto the plate. Dollop some of the emulsion on top and then place on some of the sliced onglet. Arrange the broccoli around the meat and spoon over a little of the reduced sauce.