Oxtail braised in ale with herb dumplings

Chase away the cold with John Burton Races rich and hearty slow-cooked dish of meltingly tender meat and thyme-flecked dumplings
By John Burton Race
Oxtail braised in ale with herb dumplings
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Effort: easy


For the oxtail

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 large onions, thickly sliced
  • 1 medium oxtail, cut into pieces
  • 3 tbsp flour, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, for dusting
  • 450 ml brown ale
  • 400 ml beef stock
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar

For the herb dumplings

  • 75 g self-raising flour
  • 35 g shredded suet
  • 1 tbsp chopped thyme

To serve

  • handfulchopped parsley
  • buttered carrots


1. Preheat the oven to 170C/gas mark 3.

2. For the oxtail: heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat until almost smoking then add the onions and fry for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden-brown. Transfer the onions to a lidded casserole dish.

3. Roll the oxtail pieces in the seasoned flour to coat and shake off any excess. Heat the remaining olive oil in the same frying pan used to cook the onions, until almost smoking, then add the oxtail pieces.

4. Fry for 5-6 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden-brown on all sides, then add to the onions in the casserole.

5. Pour the ale into the frying pan while still over the heat and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

6. Pour in the stock and sugar and simmer for 2 minutes, then pour the liquid over the oxtail and onions. Place a lid on the casserole and cook in the oven for 2 ½ hours.

7. For the herb dumplings: while the oxtail is cooking, sift the flour into a bowl and stir in the suet and chopped thyme leaves. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

8. Mix in just enough cold water to form a stiff dough that comes away cleanly from the sides of the bowl. Divide into 4 equal pieces and shape into balls.

9. After the casserole has been cooking for 2 ½ hours, add the dumplings to the casserole, cover and return to the oven for another half an hour, or until the oxtail is meltingly tender and the dumplings are cooked through.

10. To serve, divide the casserole and dumplings between warm serving bowls, add some buttered carrots and sprinkle over the chopped parsley.

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