The first chills of approaching winter turns the culinary attention to things hearty and warming. Based on a traditional recipe from Pamplona, Spain this gorgeously rich and tasty recipe ticks all the boxes. Oxtail is packed with flavor and reasonably priced. Maybe that’s why the bulls are in such a rush to get away during “The Encierro ... The Running of the Bulls” in July!

Serves 6


  • 4½ lb oxtail, jointed
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour, seasoned with salt & pepper
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 red onions, diced
  • 2 sticks celery, diced
  • 7 oz carrots, diced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 leeks, thickly sliced
  • 4 tbsp brandy (optional)
  • ⅔ bottle medium-bodied red wine
  • 2 cups good beef stock
  • A large bouquet garni (fresh bay leaves, parsley stalks, rosemary, and thyme sprigs tied together)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley


  • Trim the excess fat from the oxtail pieces and season well with salt and pepper. Toss the oxtail pieces in the flour and shake off the excess. Keep the remaining seasoned flour.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven (or flame-proof casserole dish) over a medium-high heat. Fry the oxtail pieces, in batches, until well browned all over. Set aside.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining oil to the pot. Add the garlic, onions, carrots, celery, and leeks. Gently sauté for about 10 minutes, or until softened and nicely browned.
  • Optional: pour over the brandy and set alight (make sure the pot is not too hot otherwise you may have to clean the ceiling!). Once the flames have died down stir in the remaining seasoned flour.
  • Gradually stir in the red wine and bring to the boil, stirring. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes.
  • Add the beef stock, bouquet garni, tomato paste, and ½ a teaspoon of salt and ½ a teaspoon of black pepper. Stir well.
  • Add the oxtail ensuring it is covered by the liquid. If needed add extra stock or water.
  • Cover and simmer gently for 2 ½ – 3 hours, until the oxtail is tender but not falling apart. * See chef’s tips.
  • After 1 hour check and add a little water if necessary. Check again every 30-45 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Cover and chill overnight.
  • The next day scrape off and discard the fat that has risen to the top of the stew. Gently reheat and then remove the oxtail pieces and the bouquet garni.
  • Pass the remaining sauce, in batches, through a fine sieve into a clean pot, pressing out as much sauce as you can with the back of a ladle. Discard what’s left in the sieve.
  • Return the sauce to medium-high heat. Simmer vigorously for 5 - 10 minutes, stirring, until the sauce has reduced by about half, has thickened and is well-flavored. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.
  • Return the oxtail to the sauce and gently simmer for 5 minutes, or until the oxtail has heated through.
  • Sprinkle with chopped parsley.


  • If you are not cooking the stew entirely on the stove top preheat the oven to 300° F.
  • * Alternative to stove-top cooking is to cook in the oven for about 3 hours, or until tender. The final reduction of the sauce is done on the stove top.
  • Serve with mashed potatoes and a choice of steamed carrots, broccoli, baby corn or sugar snap peas. Mash made from half potato and half celeriac goes very well with this dish