I am a fan of old world recipes especially those from the 1970s such as prawn cocktail, oysters mornay, chicken a la king, beef stroganoff and spaghetti bolognaise.
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
- 2 carrots
- 1 large brown onion
- 10 white mushrooms
- 2 kg of oxtail cut on the joint / knuckle
- Half cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tablespoon dried herbs
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 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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Chopinand, that is simply scrumptious! Mmmm, pass me a fork and a slice of crusty bread so I can mop up all the delicious sauces! Beautiful post!
My favourite pasta sauce? Varies. Love a classic spaghetti bolognaise, my way, but also make a very mean carbonara with fresh eggs from my friend, The Dog, and maple bacon from the Barossa Valley. I also like a simple and quick matriciana, as well as the classic olive oil and garlic.
The crusty bread at the end is a real treat! I love the classic EVOO and garlic coz it’s so simple and also now that I have made a batch of bacon salt!!
What a great idea. All that slow cooked meat and tomatoes and oxtail is so cheap here. GG
Dear Glamorous Glutton,
You are absolutely right. My entire pot would cost less than $20 and there are at least 8 decent meals there. I always shake my head when people complain about home cooked meals getting expensive.
So cute that Mysaucepan had it with wanton noodles! I totally would’ve gone with that option too. 😉
The wanton noodles absorbs the delicious sauce better actually. I prefer the thicker and al dente texture of the spaghetti.
This is a very delicious meal. My hubby loves stew oxtail that serves with mashed potato. I definitely want to cook this for him. Thanks for sharing
The beauty about this dish is that the carb component can range from pasta to mashed potatoes and even buttered rice. It is one of our winter favourites but we couldn’t wait! Happy new year to you too.
I love the idea of oxtail bolognese. I must admit I once tried to make a recipe with oxtail and ended up throwing it away. I must keep on experimenting: oxtail costs nothing here and there are so many bloggers who seem to love it!
It would be too difficult to choose my favourite pasta sauce. I have two: bolognese and carbonara. I think both are falsely simple and very easy to spoil. My bolognese recipe takes 3 hours to prepare and whenever I skip one of the ingredients or try to shorten the process it loses half of its taste.
As for carbonara… well I still am all nervous my eggs will scramble. Actually, I think that carbonara is the only bacon (ok, it should be pancetta) and egg dish which doesn’t feel heavy if properly made (I’m not joking). It’s also my way of testing if I enter an Italian restaurant: if I see cream in pasta alla carbonara I run as quickly as I can.
The oxtail requires at least 2 hours of simmering, preferably in a cast iron pot and it helps to cut down cooking time coz it retains the heat so much better. To me, oxtail is one of the best off-cuts – cheap and the texture is beautiful in a stew.
We tried carbonara last night and it was awfully simple and delicious – garlic, parsley, good EVOO and I added my home-made bacon salt to it. Once you stir in the pasta, turn off the heat and let it cool, only then you add the egg yolk and mix and it won’t scramble. The cream in carbonara is really old-world Italian and I don’t like that either.
I’ve never eaten oxtail, I think. I know there exists something like oxtail soup, though – at least. 😉
This looks nice and wonderfully spicy. 😀 You know the pasta wouldn’t be for me, but I’d love the bolognese over a serving of steamed … green beans? Brussel sprouts? Broccoli? Carrot tagliatelle? Just hand me over the veggies! 😀
I also love that the epic fork pic was accompanied by an epic spoon pic this time.
Happy New Year to both of you, Chopinand Mysaucepan! May 2012 be filled with happiness, good food, music, and inspiration for you!
You ought to try oxtail either as a stew or a popular recipe is the Indonesian oxtail soup that has cloves, cinnamon, star anise, ginger and cardamom.
You can have the oxtail without carbs too. Not half bad if you had it with steamed French beans. You’re too right about the epic fork pic
Happy new year and all the best to you in 2012!
Thank you so much, Chopinand! I see I *have* to try oxtail now! I have to see where I can get some. The Indonesian version you mentioned sounds very good as well, I love those spices! 😀
May there be a lot of epic fork (and spoon) pics in 2012 … I’M LOOKING FORWARD! 😀 😀 😀
I remember this dish! You mentioned about it in my oxtail post and I could not get over it till now. Then now I see this dish, I am getting hungrier than ever!!!!
Happy New Year to you and your family.
I remember your oxtail post and everytime I see oxtail, I can’t help but think of this beautiful dish. Happy new year to you and your family too!
I love using cuts like oxtail in stews, ragus and sauces. They lend such a lovely texture to it too! Looks delicious!
The texture of these cuts are really half the fun apart from it being so delicious!
I’ve never tried this before but looks/sounds fantastic!
I think you ought to try it then, so simple and yet delicious.
I can’t wait for winter either when there are dishes like this to be had! Looks fantastic!
You don’t have to wait for winter as we obviously couldn’t wait!
Though I am not a meat person, its hard not to salivate looking at those delicious photos
Happy New Year to you and the family
The good thing about this dish is you can choose the bigger or smaller piece of meat or just ladle the sauce onto the spaghetti unless you are a vegetarian. Happy new year to you and your family.
Nice I don’t think we’ve cooked oxtail before but this looks really nice and comfort foody
It’s one of our fave comfort foods, especially during winter.
Amazing! This looks so delicious! Perfect with the red too
One of our favourites! Thanks for dropping in.
Happy New Year! This oxtail with spaghetti looks very comforting…so rich in flavor, and the pictures are very inviting
This is definitely one of our all-time favourite comfort food in winter.
It’s barely 2012 and already, you’re killing me with these photos. LOL
I love bolognese and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE oxtails. Gads, put the two together and I am done for. 😉
This recipe is definitely made for you then!
Yummy, gelatinous and very comforting! Great recipe, Chopinand!
What a mouth-wateringly delicious meal. That looks fantastic. Who wouldn’t want to come home and be presented with a plate of ox-tail spaghetti. Great recipe.
Oxtail bolognaise! I’ve never thought of making this – what a brilliant recipe! Totally going to make this!!!!!! Using wonton noodles is interesting, too. What an impressive recipe to begin 2012. Happy New Year!!!
This is my type of pasta! Yummy….
The hunt for the oxtail has paid off – looks amazing!