Oxtail and Sweet Potato Pie

Oxtail and Sweet Potato Pie

On a Saturday my husband will kindly offer to go to the butcher to get our meat for the week, usually so he doesn’t have to watch another Vampire Diaries episode. On his return I am treated to the grand presentation whereupon 85% of the items he brings back actually featured on the list he was given. Invariably there is a surprise or two to thoughtfully throw me off course. A more resigned edition of Ready Steady Cook which then usually involves a separate trip to the shops to buy whatever is needed to help prepare it. There are certain things which have been banned from this game, one of which is wild rabbit, which was greeted with stony silence after the third time it was produced out of the butchers hat in a matter of weeks.

The chefs special this week though was oxtail which was an excellent addition to our menu. Oxtail is definitely a weekend cut of meat as it takes a while to get really soft and juicy so benefits from a really slow braise. The results are always worth the wait and a little of it can go a long way due to the richness of the meat. I needed then an accompaniment to cut through the dark intensity and decided to make cottage pie but using sweet potato to make the end result a bit lighter. This was a new recipe which worked better than I had hoped. The melting meat bubbled up underneath, caramelising with the fluffy topping and making the edges all chewy. Adding a lot of dijon mustard at the beginning of the oxtail braise also helps to thicken the gravy without the addition of flour and imparts a creamy depth rather than a strong mustard flavour.

Just as the pie came out of the oven the sky suddenly opened up outside. Now I’m not saying that the rain is an essential element to this supper but it really was rather wonderful forking the piping hot pie into my mouth whilst looking out of a drowning window, the water thundering down onto the pane.

Oxtail and sweet potato pie

1 kilo oxtail
2 tbsp olive oil
2 sticks celery, diced
1 large onion, sliced thinly
2 large carrots, diced
1 litre stock
100ml dijon mustard
2 x bay leaves
2 x sprigs thyme
2 x cloves garlic, crushed
½ tsp white pepper
½ tsp salt
1 kilo sweet potatoes
30g unsalted butter
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper

  1. Rub salt and pepper over the oxtail then in a large casserole pot heat up the olive oil on the hob and add the oxtail.
  2. Braise the oxtail for about 10 mins until browned then remove.
  3. Add the celery, onion and carrots to the casserole pot and heat on a low heat for about 10 mins until softened. Remove from the casserole and set aside.
  4. Add the oxtail back into the pot, then pour in the stock, the Dijon mustard, bay leaves, thyme, garlic and salt and pepper. Bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer. Cook for 2 hours then add back in the carrots, celery and onion and cook for a further 1½ hours until the oxtail is falling off the bone and the gravy has thickened.
  5. Remove the bay and thyme leaves and the oxtail bones. Make sure you remove the hard caps which may have fallen off the oxtail bones as they can be a surprise when you bite down on them.
  6. Pierce the whole sweet potatoes several times with a sharp knife.
  7. Wrap each one individually in foil then bake at 200°C for about 1¼ hours until the potatoes are softened.
  8. Scrape the each potato from its skin and then mash the bright orange flesh with the butter, nutmeg and salt and pepper.
  9. In an ovenproof dish, layer all the oxtail the add the sweet potato mash on top, dragging a fork over to allow the mash to crisp up in the oven.
  10. Bake in the oven for 30-40 mins at 180°C. Serve piping hot.