I love slow cooking, especially now I have an energetic little person in my life, as it’s so easy to juggle and most of the time impossible to overcook – it just sits there till you are ready for it. There is also a certain old school French beauty about having a pot of something delicious bubbling away in the background filling your home with mouth-watering smells of delight, while you are potter about doing little people things. I feel it’s a little like having your own personal chef in the kitchen working away while you are having fun.

This is another one of my cook in stages dishes – you can pick some or all of the elements to cook, just the stew alone provides a hearty meal for everyone, but I find that buy batch cooking the various bits over several days it allows for some great cooking without impacting on my time with Rupert. I have the crumpets in the freezer, the celeriac pure is easy and almost looks after its self and the same goes for the oxtail (also both these elements can be pre-made and frozen). I always cook this dish in massive batches so I have a great meal in the freezer. 

This is the perfect dish for all stages and ages and can be consumed in whatever style your little one prefers.  The pure and oxtail can be spoon fed, but by serving it on baby crumpets it easily becomes perfect for finger food eaters and those eager to feed themselves. We normally end up with a messy, but happy, combinations of eating by hand and spoon – Rupert loves licking the celeriac puree off his fingers in a very Henry V style of culinary delight.

Finally, this dish is stacked full of goodness, especially with the inclusion of my Vegetable Trinity which gets all those important multi cloured vegetables into those ever growing and learning humans.

Recipes

Serves: serves 4 adults 
Prep time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 3hrs plus
Stage-appropriate: From 6 months – the celeriac pure, is perfect for new eaters and so is the pulled oxtail if you ensure the meat is broken down enough.
Freezer friendly: Yes, all parts of this recipe were created for freezing 

Slow, slow pulled oxtail

  • 4 -6 large pieces of oxtail and 4-6 small pieces (these pieces are for flavoring really)
  • 500ml Beef stock  
  • sage, a bunch
  • parsley, a bunch 
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 1 carrot, chopped into slices
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped into slices 
  • 1 leek, chopped into thin slices
  • Flour
  • Vegetable oil
  • Seasoning, as you prefer and is appropriate  

Celeriac Puree

  • 1 celeriac
  • 500ml whole milk 
  • 200ml double cream 
  • Seasoning, as you prefer and is appropriate  

Vegetable Trinity

See The Holy Trinity of vegetables, never seen but always there!!! A parents vegetable saviour.

Baby Crumpets

see Crumpets, Baby

METHOD

Oxtail 

  1. Place a couple of hand full of flour on to a plate and coat each piece of oxtail in it, shake off the excess. 
  2. Warm a tablespoon of oil in a pan and fry the pieces of oxtail until golden brown, you will need to do this in batches adding more oil to the pan if needed.  Placed the oxtail into an ovenproof dish or heavy bottomed pan.
  3. Wipe clean the frying pan, add a little more oil and fry the carrots, leek, and celery until soft and brown. Add the chopped vegetables and all the herbs to the oxtail pan. 
  4. Cover everything with beef stock, and top up with water until everything is coved with liquid.  Cover the pan with some baking paper and place a lid on top, this will prevent all the liquid burning off during cooking. 
  5. Cook in the oven for at least two hours or longer at 160°.

Now, is the perfect moment to get the Celeriac puree done, although this can also be made at another time. 

Celeriac puree

  1. Peel and chop the celeriac into large chunks and place into a pan. 
  2. Cover with the milk and double cream, add extra water if needed. Bring to the boil and then simmer till the celeriac is soft (about 30-40mins).
  3. Sive the celeriac, keeping the cooking liquid to one side.
  4. Put the celeriac into a blender with a good glug (50ml) of the cooking liquid and blitz till you have the consistency of a potato mash before you add the butter and milk.
  5. Add more liquid till you get a smooth consistency that coats the back of a tablespoon (it should be much more liquid than a standard potato mash).
  6. Once cooled, this can be stored in the fridge until you are ready to warm before serving or you can freezer if you are making it for a later date. 

To finish the pulled oxtail 

  1. After two hours the meat should be falling off the bone, remove it from the pan and set aside to cool. 
  2. Over a high heat reduce the cooking liquid into a thick sauce. Once the source is reduced, I will normally add 2-3 tablespoons of Trinity Vegetables. (Note – if you are preparing this for new eaters, set aside their portions and blend the sauce as it will still have chunks of vegetables in it). 
  3. Once the oxtails are cool I pull the meat off the bone, by hand, and shred with a knife and folk to a level that I know your little one can cope with – at 13 months Rupert can manage fairly chunky peases of tender meat. 
  4. Put the pulled meat into the reduced sauce, give it a stir and then fridge till you are ready to warm it through later or freeze it in batches for another day. 

Putting the dish together

For Rupert at 13 months, I use 3 baby crumpets for a main course. I defrost the crumpets and toast them. I then warm the celeriac puree and the pulled oxtail mix. 

To assemble, top the crumpet with a good amount of puree and then finish with a tablespoon of the oxtail mix on top.