Last week, while shopping with the boy, I spied a package in the meat section that looked like heaven! I leaped on it, and squealed 'Oxtail!'. The kilo price was LOW (R25 for my locals), and I was keen. Immediately I had daydreams of red wine, rosemary and garlic simmering gently all day, and I was a goner. 2 packages in the trolley, and we were headed for the till, congratulating ourselves (OK, I was congratulating MYSELF) on our incredible buy.
Fast forward a few days, and I've gotten totally overexcited and invited friends (hi Marisa and TheHusband) over for oxtail, and I started worrying that there wouldn't be enough! Can't have that with two hungry boys in the house! So I scuttled back to the shop, only to find, to my horror, that the kilo price more than doubled in 2 days! So bought some stewing beef, consoling myself that I had gotten in before they had gotten greedy.... and went home to discover that I had, in actual fact, bought Ostrich Neck. Yes, my friends. Extra Lean Ostrich Neck (I saw the O and the X and came up with oxtail, go figure..)
So. That is why this dish is known as mock oxtail, since it was actually Ostrich Neck and Beef. Ah well. After doing some considerable last minute research, (among them this post from Homemade Heaven, which was invaluable) I discovered that Ostrich Neck is actually the lesser known, but much leaner counterpart to oxtail. Also tough, it requires long, slow cooking, and can be cooked in much the same flavours as oxtail. The clincher, however, is that ostrich is MUCH leaner than oxtail, and is much better for you than oxtail (apart from being so much cheaper!) So all in all, I wasn't unhappy with my erroneous purchase... though I'll have to make actual oxtail now to compare....
Mock Oxtail or Ostrich Neck Stew
1-2 kg ostrich neck (or oxtail, or a mix of ostrich and beef), excess fat trimmed off
1 small bunch of carrots, peeled and chopped roughly
1 onion, sliced
300 ml red wine
250 ml stock (I used veggie, but beef or lamb would be fine)
2 tsps cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 can tomato and onion mix
5 cloves garlic, chopped roughly
1 tsp origanum
1 tsp parsley
1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary (or 1 heaped tbsp dried)
Salt and pepper
- In a hot saucepan, fry the meat in batches in a tiny bit of oil until browned on all sides.
- Remove meat from the pan, and set aside.
- Lower the heat, and add some more oil, and fry the onion until soft.
- Add the spices and fry for a minute in the oil, then add the herbs and mix.
- Add the tomato and onion, and heat through.
- While the tomato mixture is heating, peel and roughly chop the carrots, and arrange them in a layer at the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Arrange the meat pieces over the carrots, and salt and pepper the meat liberally (I forgot this step, and the food was quite undersalted. I added salt in at the end, but it would've been better here.)
- Pour the wine, stock and tomato mixture over the meat and carrots.
- Turn the slow cooker to High for the first 3-4 hours, then low until cooked. (I put mine on at 10.30am, and put it on low. When it seemed to have done very little in the first two hours, I turned it up to High and went out. I came back at about 4.30-5ish, and turned it down to low, and went out again. It was pretty much done at 7.30ish when we got back, and all I had to do was make a salad and some cheesy mashed potato to go with it.)
Now, that's my kind of meal!