Braised oxtail with baby red mullet and crisp sage

Slow-cook oxtail in a rich tomato and vegetable red wine sauce and top with baby mullet
By Matt Tebbutt
Braised oxtail with baby red mullet and crisp sage
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time:
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Effort: easy


  • butter, for frying
  • olive oil, for frying
  • 1 large oxtail, cut into joints (about 8 pieces)
  • 2 large onions, unpeeled, sliced in half
  • 2 large carrots, halved lengthways
  • 3 stalks celery, quartered
  • 1 heads garlic, halved
  • 3-4 tbsp duck fat
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 star anise
  • 6-8 black peppercorns
  • 400 g canned chopped tomatoes
  • 600 ml beef stock
  • 200 ml red wine
  • 12 baby red mullet fillets
  • 8 sage leaves


1. Preheat the oven to 150C/gas 2.

2. Heat the butter and the oil in a heavy-based lidded casserole, add the oxtail and cook until browned on all sides. Lift out the meat and set it aside.

3. Put the onions, carrots, celery and garlic in the pot with the duck fat and cook until the vegetables are lightly coloured.

4. Return the oxtail and any juices from the meat to the pan. Add the bay leaves, thyme, star anise, peppercorns and tomatoes. Pour over the stock (or water) and red wine and bring to the boil. Season lightly with salt and then cover with a tight lid. Transfer the dish to the oven.

5. Cook for at least 2 hours, or until the meat is tender (it could take up to 3 hours, depending on the oxtail).

6. Remove the oxtail from the pan with a slotted spoon and set it aside.

7. Strain the liquid from the pot through a sieve into a clean pan. Discard the vegetables and herbs and then simmer the liquid until the volume has reduced by two-thirds. Flake the oxtail back into the sauce and keep warm.

8. Season the baby red mullet fillets with salt and pepper and press a sage leaf onto the skin side of 4 of the fillets. Heat a dash of olive oil in a large pan and fry the mullet until cooked through (you may need to do this in batches).

9. In a separate pan, fry the remaining sage leaves in butter or oil until crisp.

10. To serve, share the oxtail pieces among 4 plates, top each serving with 3 fish fillets, ensuring each person gets one of the fish fillets pressed with a sage leave. Pour over the sauce and top with a crisp sage leave per person.

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