Thursday 14 March 2013

Oxtail and red wine pie

It's that time again - when even the most hardened devotee of day/month/year date expression adopts American month/day/year for the convenience of Pi Day. I don't think I will be doing too much celebrating of mathematics but I did make a celebratory Pi Pie.

It's oxtail, so it needs a long cook and it's a bit of a fiddle. And the pastry takes a while too, although it isn't at all difficult. You could, I suppose, make this all on one day, but that would make this much more stressful and pressurised. A gentle two-day process with all the enjoyment separated from the labour is much more my style.

I took inspiration from Lisa's additions of cinnamon and chocolate to the meat and they really did make a delectable rich gravy without tasting sweet. And I'd been planning to do a simple shortcrust base and (bought) puff pastry topping, but then Dan Lepard published this recipe for a red wine and mustard crust over the weekend, which was obviously just the thing.
Not the prettiest stew but one of the tastiest

The filling came first. I browned some lovely meaty segments of oxtail in a tiny splash of olive oil (this pie is so rich it does NOT need lots of oil, plus there is enough liquid to loosen all the stuck-on bits). Then veg, wine and stock and into a slow oven for a long, long time.
Dan Lepard's red wine & mustard rough puff

While that was happening I made the pastry. The egg yolk and strong flour make it very easy to handle, and the smell of the wine and mustard in it was lovely. The fact that it was arctic in the kitchen probably helped keep the layers of butter separate.
Layer upon layer upon layer, as the Sara Lee ads used to say

When the meat was falling off the bone, I removed it from the pot and as soon as it was cool enough to handle, stripped every little bit from the bone. It was much hotter near the bone than I expected, so my initial estimate of "cool enough to handle" resulted in burnt fingers.

The meat went back into the pot with a little dark chocolate and a lot of halved mushrooms and black pepper and was allowed to cool.

Then the following day when the filling was coolly jellied and the pastry beautifully rested, it all came together.

I glazed it with eggwhite and decorated it with pi to 30 decimal places. I had 40 written down just to be on the safe side.

Unfortunately, due to my very successful pastry rising hugely, some of the definition in the decoration was lost. It was, however, a really delicious pie. I think next time I will do my usual shortcrust base and just have the rough puff on top, and reserve the rest of the fancy pastry for some sausage rolls or something.

Oxtail and red wine pie (serves 4-6)

1 quantity red wine & mustard pastry
small splash olive oil
1.5kg oxtail
100g diced panceta (or pancetta or bacon)
1 onion, finely diced
1 stick of celery, finely diced
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 stick cinnamon
250ml vegetable stock
250ml red wine
10g dark chocolate
200g mushrooms, halved or chopped
Black pepper
1 eggwhite (if you haven't got one reserved from making the pastry)

Brown the oxtail in batches in a little oil, then add it back to the pot with the panceta, onion, celery, carrot, cinnamon, stock and wine. Scrape any stuck bits into the liquid, and bring to the boil. Cover and cook on a low heat for 4-5 hours or until the meat is really tender. Remove the meat and the cinnamon stick from the braising liquid. Discard the cinnamon stick and strip the meat from the bones as soon as they are cool enough to handle. There are lots of little nobbly bits which make this a bit of a chore. You could use 800g of ox cheek instead if you don't fancy a fight.

Return the meat to the pot with the braising liquid and add the chocolate, mushrooms and a lot of pepper. There should be enough heat left in the sauce to melt the chocolate. Taste for seasoning - between the panceta and the stock it really shouldn't need any more salt.

Allow to cool and refrigerate overnight (or just leave it at the back of the stove if it is as cold in your kitchen as ours was this week).

The following day, roll out 2/3 of the pastry to line the pie dish, pile with the filling, then roll out the remaining 1/3 for the lid. Glaze with lightly beaten egg white and cut a little hole in the top to allow the steam to vent a bit.

Bake at 180C for 45 minutes. Serve with a very simply cooked green vegetable - maybe steamed broccoli with a squeeze of lemon juice.

It really was a very delicious pie. The pastry is quite subtle - it has a distinct savouriness but it isn't at all a strong wine and mustard flavour. It worked really well with the rich dark meat in the filling. This is definitely a pie to serve hot; oxtail loses much of its charm as it cools.


Faux Fuchsia said...

that looks SO GOOD!!! luff oxtail.x

Joanne said...

I love that you inscribed the crust with teh actual value of pi!!

leaf (the indolent cook) said...

The stew looks so rich and delicious! And the crust looks pretty amazing. Love your idea for the decoration!

Mary Bergfeld said...

What a gorgeous creation. This is really an outstanding dish. It is rich and sounds delicious and all-together pleasing. Very nicely done! Have a wonderful weekend. Blessings...Mary

Caroline said...

Great pastry - must get round to trying puff. I do love a good pie in cold weather.

grace said...

that pie crust sounds so unique and tasty! ah, the perks of a frigid kitchen. :)


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