Oxtail Braised in Sherry with Parsnip Puree

Following the Butcher’s Bazaar this weekend I decided to kick off with an oxtail creation. Our recent visit to the BBC Good Food Show in London meant I had come away with a nice collection of recipes, including one from Ash Mair, last year’s winner of Masterchef: The Professionals.

His creation combines oxtail with Pedro Ximenez sherry and serves it with parsnips and pancetta. I didn’t have either of these but I substituted with a different sherry and smoked bacon.

Now it would be very easy to start thinking about where this cut of meat is actually coming from. But having watched people eat various unspeakable parts of a kangaroo on ‘I’m a Celebrity, And I’ve Run Out of Options’ I figured eating a tail was pretty tame. So I got busy:

Ingredients (almost straight from Ash Mair)

  • Flour, seasoned with salt and pepper to coat the joints of meaty goodness
  • 4 or 5 oxtail joints (you can buy it whole but seriously who wants to deal with that at home?)
  • Olive oil, for frying
  • 1 large onion (or two smaller ones)
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 1/2 bottle red wine
  • 1 pint dry sherry
  • 3 peeled garlic cloves
  • Bay leaf
  • 10 (why 10, not 12, or 9?) peppercorns
  • a bunch of thyme
  • 3/4 pint chicken stock


  • 2lbs of parsnips
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 pint milk
  • 4 or 5 rashers smoked streaky bacon, rind on!

Coat the meat in the flour. Fry in a large casserole for about 10 mins to brown all over:

Set the meat aside and add the vegetables and fry gently for 5 mins to soften up a bit:

Now add the red wine:

Then add the sherry (you know taking these shots isn’t easy especially as I was holding a glass of wine as well):

Bring the pot to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer (apparently to take out the alcohol – but question is: why would you do that? It’s madness)

Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for a quarter of an hour or so. Skim off the froth:

Put the lid on the pot and braise in the oven for 3 hours at 140 centigrade (for a fan oven; the recipe said 120 but this was too low for my oven).

When the oxtail has about a half hour to go, get the parsnips started. Chop them up and put them in a pan with the milk and bay leaf.

Bring to the boil and simmer until they break up with a fork. Drain off the milk and set aside. Use a blender to puree the parsnip and add a bit of the milk if you want (I put a bit of butter in too)

Get the oxtail out; it should look like this:

Remove the oxtails from the pan:

Pass the contents of the pot through a sieve into a new pan (it’s the last we’ll be seeing of the vegetables, herbs etc):

Simmer the liquid down until it forms a thicker sauce:

At the same time fry the bacon until it’s crispy:

Chop the bacon up. It’s time to plate this bad boy up! Get a suitable plate (a sort of large, flat bowl is ideal) and spoon some parsnip onto it:

Pop one of the oxtail’s on top and then spoon the sauce over it. Top with the chopped bacon and some greenery should you so wish:

Now it’s unusual for me to actually end up enjoying something like this. By the time I’ve made it I am usually too ‘tired’ to care what it tastes like; but this one was an exception. In fact I think another shot is required:

If you ever find yourself with a couple of pounds of oxtail and a bottle of sherry – try this!

40 thoughts on “Oxtail Braised in Sherry with Parsnip Puree

  1. I love parsnips. They are a very under-appreciated veggie in my mind. I’ve never tried oxtail. Honestly I’m not sure if i could get hubby to eat them. I’d have to lie to him about what it is and call it a rib or something. Your meal looks fabulous!

  2. Great photos & directions. My mother grew up on a farm at the very top of Maine near the Canadian border so they grew & butchered everything that went on their table (not exactly a supermarket within 100 miles). I can tell you that with 8 brothers & sisters plus farm hands, nothing went to waste so ox tail isn’t the very worst part of an animal that can be cooked.

  3. I love what you did with the parsnips. I’ve never had oxtail, but I hear that it’s delicious. This version looks especially good.

    • Thanks I was quite impressed with the taste – and you’re right about the stock, although the actual instruction was brown chicken stock but for me thats getting a little too exact…

      • Saw Ash at GFSL yesterday. The chicken stock is used as it is lighter than beef, allowing other flavours to come through that would otherwise be lost.

  4. Since it is getting close to the big American holiday of Thanksgiving and all cooking is centered around turkeys, I suddenly am craving beef.
    And your comment about “just ordering so you don’t look crazy” is too funny.

  5. Sometime last week I told my wife that I was going to make a dinner with ox tails. She looked at me like I had three heads.
    It’s just beef.
    When I saw all the vegetables, I worried that you were making a stew !!.
    Looks good !

    • God no – no carrots landed on that plate. I know oxtail doesn’t sound especially inviting, but once you get over the bony bits (which really do look like vertebrae (cos they are) it tastes great.

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