A hearty oxtail cannelloni dish is great way to wow any dinner party. The ragu recipe for this dish takes the traditional method a few steps further: using Heston Blumenthal’s onion-star anise combo, adding chopped liver (which you won’t taste, but makes a difference) for extra richness, and fish sauce for an umami kick. If you don’t have 6 hours to simmer the sauce, use a pressure cooker to cut the time down by two thirds, although there’s always something extra-homely about gently tending to a pot.
Serves 6 | Level: Medium | Total time: 6 Hours
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely minced
- 1 large carrot, finely minced
- 2 stalks celery, finely minced
- 2 large cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 star anise
- 50g bacon or pancetta
- 1kg oxtail
- 100g chicken liver
- 3 sticks of clove
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 bunch thyme
- 1 pinch dried chilli flakes
- 500ml dry red wine
- 250ml unsalted beef stock
- 250ml whole milk
- 1 can crushed tomatoes
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- salt, to taste
- black pepper, to taste
- Add olive oil to a heavy-bottomed pot and sweat the onions, carrots, celery and garlic with the star anise on medium heat, adding a pinch of salt to draw the moisture out, stirring so nothing browns or sticks.
- Meanwhile, render the bacon or pancetta in a large frying pan on low and remove once they’re slightly crispy and you get a layer of fat in the pan.
- In the same pan, turn the heat up to medium-high and brown the oxtail in the bacon fat, then remove and set aside.
- Add in the chicken liver, breaking them up with your spatula as you brown them. Add in the cloves, bay leaves, thyme and chilli flakes, before frying until the liver is nicely browned.
- Deglaze the meat pan with the wine, scraping any brown bits stuck to the bottom, and let simmer for 2 minutes. Your vegetables should be starting to break down now at this point while taking on some colour.
- Fish the star anise out of the pan and pour its contents in with the vegetables, top up with the beef stock, milk, crushed tomatoes and fish sauce.
- Let simmer for anywhere between 4-6 hours, depending on how much time you have to spare. Stir occasionally to prevent the bottom burning, and top up with water whenever the sauce begins to look a little dry. Alternatively, dump everything into a pressure cooker and cook for 2 hours.
- When done, the oxtail should be fork-tender and ready to fall off the bone. Let the mixture cool and pull the meat off the oxtail and shred, mixing it in with the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- 25g butter
- 25g flour
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 300ml whole milk
- half bunch thyme
- 70g shredded melty cheese, like a sharp cheddar
- salt, white pepper and ground nutmeg to taste
- 200ml tomato sauce (use your favourite brand, or make a quick one by frying garlic, adding tomato puree and finishing with chopped basil)
- 200g dried cannelloni tubes
- Fry the flour in the butter, stirring to make a roux. Add the minced garlic and fry for about 30 seconds, the roux should be no darker than light blonde.
- Slowly pour in the milk while continuously whisking, breaking up any lumps for a smooth sauce.
- Add in the thyme, and slowly whisk in the cheese, letting it simmer on low for about 5 minutes.
- Remove the thyme and season to taste with the salt, pepper and ground nutmeg.
To serve the Oxtail Cannelloni
- Prepare the cannelloni pasta according to the package. Some brands call for them to be boiled first. We’re using the kind that just requires baking.
- Spoon the cooled ragu into the cannelloni tubes, and place then on a layer of the tomato sauce spooned into a baking dish.
- Pour the white over the cannelloni tubes, and bake according to the instructions on your pasta package. We used Barilla, which required the dish to be baked at 180C for 30 minutes.