Inspired by a cold and wet Johannesburg morning, and upcoming Autumn, as well as the availability of oxtail in my freezer, this is a slow cooker delight that I particularly enjoyed making. Simple ingredients, a bit of ghee and a lip-smacking dish of gastronomic delight is the end result. That it is pretty easy to put together too, makes this a base recipe for many other slow cooker protein and veggie meals.
Typically, this is a braised veggie with browned oxtail all added together with seasoning and bone broth or stock and tomato, creating another comfort food meal that is indulgent. Oxtail has never been a meat-protein that I identified with growing up and I was reminded by my mum that it was based on affordability with oxtail being pricey way back then too. A kilogram of oxtail set me back R100 which is still pricey but is the current going rate of red meat in South Africa. This is a once in 6 months kind of meal so the expense for it may be deemed worthwhile
In creating the parsnip and leek mash to accompany the oxtail, and mindful that this was the first time ever cooking or eating parsnips(those white carrot-looking veggies), I decided to go with my “gut” in preparing it and as always, the “gut”never lies! My fussy veggie-hating boys tried it and thought they were having mashed potatoes. I spy the parsnips often during my fresh produce shopping and always avoid them, the last shopping trip saw me including them in my basket – and Headchef saw them and advised that he fed them to the horses in his youth and he ate them raw, like carrots. I wasn’t convinced then that you could eat them as you would carrots. I’m still not convinced, although they appear to be a white version of carrots – and I didn’t taste them raw while preparing them. My recipe for the amazing Parsnip and leek mash follows the oxtail recipe.
While I cooked this meal in a slow cooker as oxtail is a tough meat, the oven cooks it just as well in a sealed casserole dish, at oven setting of 180° celsius for 3 hours or so.
This is another Paleo fine-dining experience in this rich and sophisticated meal – one that you will most definitely enjoy – said in absolute confidence
1kg oxtail (you may ask your butcher to cut them across if the pieces are too large)
4 tblsp ghee or extra-virgin olive oil (lard or tallow too – I used ghee, which provides a richer, flavoursome taste)
1 onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and evenly diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 leeks, finely sliced
6-8 tomatoes, pureed or chopped
a few sprigs fresh thyme or 2 tsp dried
1-2 tsp crushed fresh garlic
2 bay leaves
2 cups bone broth or preservative and sugar free beef or lamb stock
Himalayan or Sea Salt to taste
Optional: Fresh green chilli if a spicy taste is preferred
- Heat the ghee or olive oil in a pan and brown the oxtail pieces on each side.
- Remove the oxtail and add the carrots, celery, onions and leeks, sauteeing until they are soft. It’s useful to stir and combine the oxtail residue in the bottom of the pan which adds to the flavour of the vegetables.
- Add the tomatoes, thyme, bay leaves and garlic, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook for about 10 minutes.
- Heat the slow cooker and add the oxtail and vegetables.
- Add in the broth or stock and leave to cook for 4-5 hours.
- In this time the oxtail has cooked and absorbed the rich vegetable sauce, which has thickened this one pot meal.
- Serve with mashed vegetables of your choice, preferably the leek and parsnip mash below.
Parsnip and Leek Mash
Totally new to parsnips, I’m amazed at how good this mash turned out – the nutty taste of the parsnips combined with the leeks, cooked in ghee and cumin seeds and pureed with coconut milk delivered an over the top taste in parsnips, making this a top-notch lower carb root veggie and a healthier option to regular potatoes. I always prefer steaming, roasting or braising my veggies as opposed to boiling them (which removes nutrients) – this time I am so glad I opted to braise these parsnips!
3 parsnips, rough weight 500g, peeled and evenly diced
2 leeks, finely chopped
1-2tblsp ghee or extra virgin olive oil
¼ tsp cumin seeds
¼ cup coconut cream (thickened topping of coconut milk)
Himalayan or Sea salt to taste
- Heat the ghee in a non-stick medium sized pot on the stove top
- Add in the cumin seeds and as they begin to sizzle, add in the leeks, allowing it to sautee until softened.
- Add in the parsnips, season with salt to taste, and allow to cook for 30-40 minutes covered, until softened. You may need to add in about ½ cup water if the parsnips begin to dry up.
- Once cooked, add the parsnips to a food processor bowl, add in the coconut milk and pulse until the desired mash state is reached. You can go as creamy smooth or chunky as you prefer. A hand held blender may also be used to blend into a mash.
- Enjoy with protein of choice.