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Braised oxtail with basil dumplings

Oxtail stew with dumplings

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  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Prep:
    • Cook:
  • Easy
  • Serves 6

Slow-cooked oxtail is soft, melting meat and teamed with this rich red wine sauce it's perfect for parties

  • Easily halved
  • Freezable
Nutrition: per serving


  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 oxtail , jointed and cut into pieces
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil , for frying
  • 2 onions , chopped
  • 3 carrots , cut into small chunks
  • 2 celery sticks, cut into small chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves , chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • bay leaves and thyme sprigs, tied together
  • 1 bottle full-bodied red wine
  • 1 beef stock cube

For the dumplings

  • 300g self-raising flour
  • bunch basil leaves, removed
  • 75g butter
  • 3 egg whites
  • olive oil , for drizzling


  • STEP 1

    Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Season the flour with salt and pepper, then toss the oxtail in it until evenly coated. Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole. Working in batches, brown the meat really well on all sides. Remove from the pan, then add the veg and garlic and fry for 3-4 mins until starting to colour. Stir in the tomato purée and herbs. Tip the meat back into the pan, pour over the wine, then crumble in the stock cube. Season, cover the pan and braise in the oven for 3 hrs until the meat is meltingly tender. Can be cooked up to 2 days ahead. If you make it ahead, chill in the fridge and lift any fat off the top before reheating.

  • STEP 2

    To make the dumplings, tip the flour and basil (reserving a few leaves for a garnish) into a food processor with a generous pinch of salt, then blitz until the basil is finely chopped. Add the butter and blitz until it’s the texture of breadcrumbs, then gradually add the egg whites until everything comes together. On a floured surface, roll the dumplings into small, walnut-size balls, then cover with a tea towel until ready to cook.

  • STEP 3

    To serve, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Simmer dumplings for 15 mins, then remove with a slotted spoon. While the dumplings are cooking, gently reheat the meat in the sauce. Serve a few chunks of meat in a soup bowl with a few dumplings, drizzled with olive oil and scattered with a few basil leaves.


This is the tail meat from cattle and, when slow-cooked, is one of the tastiest cuts of beef. You may see whole oxtail in the butchers, but for most dishes you will want it jointed into pieces. As the oxtail has a thick and a thin end, the pieces will vary in size – you will need two large pieces per serving. Oxtail should be neatly jointed without any splintery bits of bone attached to the meat.


Oxtail is tough, so you need to braise it for a good few hours. What you are then left with is the magic of cooking – soft, melting meat with a thick, glistening sauce. I think it goes really well with these basil dumplings.

Goes well with

Recipe from Good Food magazine, March 2008

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A star rating of 4.7 out of 5.42 ratings

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