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Oxtail Cottage Pie

Quite simply, the tastiest, most indulgent cottage pie you will ever eat. Rain is pounding the windows, and a gale is blowing outside. The dog walk can wait while you focus on filling your home with fabulous cooking aromas. The marinated oxtail is ever-so gently braised in the oven so that it falls from the bone, and creamy Duchess potatoes add a layer of extravagance.

SERVES 4

Ingredients

1.2kg (2lb 10oz) oxtail pieces, on the bone | about 600ml(20fl oz) red wine | 1 tbsp olive oil | 15g (½oz) butter | 500ml (18fl oz)Chicken or Veal Stock | 2 bay leaves | 4 black peppercorns, crushed | 3 carrots, diced

For the mushrooms and onions

20g (¾oz) butter | 200g (7oz) wild mushrooms of your choice, such as King Oyster, cleaned and trimmed | 200g (7oz) shallots or pearl onions, peeled and left whole | 150ml (5f l oz) hot water | 1 tsp sugar

For the Duchess potatoes

about 900g (2lb) potatoes (we use red Désirée), unpeeled |50g (1¾oz) butter | 2 tbsp double cream | 2 egg yolks | freshly grated nutmeg |sea salt flakes and pepper

To serve

300g (10½oz) kale | 2 large leeks, cleaned and diced | 15g(½oz) butter, cubed | 4–5 tbsp double cream | sea salt f lakes and pepper

Method

Lay the oxtail pieces in a large non-reactive dish or container. Pour in the wine. Cover and leave to marinate overnight or preferably for 24 hours

When the oxtail has marinated

Preheat the oven to 150˚C (300˚F), Gas Mark 2.

Remove the oxtail from the marinade with a slotted spoon, reserving the wine.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large ovenproof saucepan or flameproof casserole.

Add the oxtail and brown over a medium heat for about a minute, just enough to seal on all sides. Remove them from the pan and set aside.

Pour the reserved wine into the same pan and leave to bubble over a medium-high heat until it has reduced by about two-thirds. Add the stock and return to the boil, then remove the pan from the heat.

Return the oxtail to the pan. Add the bay leaves and peppercorns, then place in the oven for 3½ hours, turning the oxtail 3 times during cooking. One hour before the end of the cooking time, add the carrots.

Remove the pan from the oven and leave to cool.

Cook the mushrooms and onions

In a frying pan, melt 10g (¼oz) of the butter.

When it is foaming add the mushrooms and sauté over a medium-high heat for 2 minutes until softened. Set aside.

In the same pan, add the shallots or onions, measured water, remaining butter and the sugar and braise over a medium-low heat for 15–20 minutes until browned and soft on the outside. Put to one side.

Make the Duchesspotatoes

Preheat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F), Gas Mark 4.

Bake the potatoes for 40 minutes, or until soft. Once they have cooled, peel and blend them to a smooth mash with the butter, cream and egg yolks. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to your taste.

Assemble and bake the pie

Preheat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F), Gas Mark 4. When the oxtail is cool, skim away any excess fat, remove it from the pan and take the meat from the bone (it will come away easily).

Place the oxtail meat, sautéed mushrooms, braised onions and the braising juices in an ovenproof dish, then spread or pipe on the Duchess potatoes. Bake for about 40 minutes until the potato is golden brown.

To serve

The pie can be served with creamed leeks and kale. The kale is blanched first, then sliced. Sweat the kale and leeks gently in a pan with the butter, lid on. When they are tender, add a little cream, bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes until the cream thickens.

Taste and season before serving.

Recipe from The Ritz Cookbook by John Williams