I strongly believe these iconic dishes have inspired and paved the way for home chefs and restaurants throughout the world to come up with more contemporary recipes that we recognise today. Hence it is important to acknowledge the pioneering recipes of yesteryears to better appreciate the newer ones.
Spaghetti bolognaise is iconic like its pizza cousin and these two dishes are cooked and celebrated by people of all cultures throughout the world.
I have found that tweaking these aged-old recipes slightly can yield some pretty impressive results. For example, instead of the usual mix of beef, pork and veal mince for the bolognaise sauce, the alternative is whole pieces of oxtail that has been cut on the joint.
Using whole peeled tomatoes from the can imparts more intense flavours than fresh tomatoes although a combination of both can also work well.
This is one of my all-time favourite winter dishes. As you can clearly see, I can’t wait for winter! It takes approximately two hours to slowly simmer the oxtail in a stewing pot until the meat is gently soft.
This recipe can be made a lot easier if you think of it in two parts – cooking the oxtail by simmering it in a cast iron pot on the one part and using another pot to sautee the onions and vegetables.
In order to save time, I always start the cooking process for the carrots and onions about an hour into the simmering time for the oxtail because the carrots also do take a little time for it to become soft.
Cooking the oxtail in a separate cast iron pot or pressure cooker also cuts down cooking time as it usually takes at least two hours to simmer about 2kg of oxtail until it is soft.
Cooking the oxtail in a separate pot also makes it easier to skim off the excess fat from the simmering process which can be quite considerable.
This oxtail bolognaise is also great with a dry red wine.
Tonight, we are having a 2008 Brand’s Laira Cabernet Sauvignon.
Typical of a Coonawarra red, this wine is elegant with plummy aromas and soft vanilla oak. This wine can be kept in the cellar for up to ten years.
I love the spicy kick of fresh chillies and find that tasty as it may be, the soft strands of oxtail meat is great with some added spice.
The option is to either have the chillies in extra virgin olive oil or light soy sauce and I prefer the latter.
I have also used two types of noodles and it has worked well on both.
I blanch some wanton noodles and have mixed it with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to give it a smooth and velvety texture.
Mysaucepan had the wanton noodles and it soaks up the thick and unctuous sauce really well.
I prefer it with the more traditional spaghetti that is slightly al dente and it is just as good. In the past, I have also used linguine and penne but by far, my favourite type of pasta for this dish are spaghetti or papardelle.
The oxtail meat must be tender and falling off the bone. This way it is yielding to the fork and also soaks up the tasty sauce.
So here is the recipe for my spaghetti oxtail bolognaise. Bon appetite!
1 600ml bottle of passata / pasta sauce
1 – 2 can of peeled tomatoes
1 large brown onion
10 white mushrooms
2 kg of oxtail cut on the joint / knuckle
Half cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon dried herbs
Spaghetti pasta for 4 persons
1. Gently simmer the oxtail in a stewing pot with 1 litre of water in low to medium heat, ensuring the meat is covered by the water. (This process takes aproximately two hours and once the meat is soft, separate it from the liquid and skim off excess fat.)
2. Dice carrots finely and slice mushrooms and tomatoes. I love cutting my carrots into different shapes and sizes for no good reason other than visual variety and to create some bold “chunkiness” in the spag bol.
3. In a separate cooking pot, add EVOO and sautee diced onion gently, adding salt and freshly cracked black pepper immediately to draw out the flavours of the onions.
4. Then add the carrots to the diced onions.
5. Turn up the heat and add the cooked oxtail to the vegetables.
6. Add a 600ml bottle of passata to fresh and canned tomatoes.
7. When the sauce is simmering, stir in 2 generous tablespoon of dried mixed herbs and a splash of good red wine. (By this, I mean wine that you would want to drink rather than “wine for cooking”).
Tip 1: Fresh herbs such as basil, oregano and thyme are great for spag bol. But I find dried herbs to be no less intense and flavoursome if cooking a sauce as opposed to using fresh herbs for say, a fresh salad.
Tip 2: If the sauce becomes too thick, add a little of the broth from boiling the oxtail.
8. When carrots are soft, add the mushrooms as they don’t need much cooking. Stir in the mushroom and the sauce should simmer for another 10 minutes before serving.
9. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in boiling water until al dente and add 3 – 4 tablespoon of salt into the boiling water. Once cooked, rinse spaghetti in cold water to stop the cooking. Then drizzle with EVOO and mix for a smooth and silky pasta.
10. Ladle the sauce onto the pasta and top with freshly cracked black pepper, chives and drizzle more EVOO if preferred.
So dear readers, what is your favourite pasta sauce?
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