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A celebration of Somerset beef

Ingredients

For the braised oxtail
  • 20g/¾oz beef dripping

  • 1 x 600g/1lb 5oz oxtail, fat trimmed, chopped into 4-5cm/1½-2in pieces at the joints

  • 100g/3½oz shallots, peeled, sliced

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste with the edge of a knife

  • 400-500ml/14-17fl oz beef stock

  • 1 fresh or 2 dried bay leaves

  • 1 level tsp salt

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the basic suet dough
For the ox heart faggots
  • ½ ox heart (available from some traditional butchers), split open, arteries, veins, fat and gristle removed, meat roughly chopped

  • 100g/3½oz demi-sel pork or dry-cured streaky bacon, chopped

  • 100g/3½oz shallots, peeled, chopped

  • chopped fresh parsley leaves, to taste

  • 150g/5oz suet

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 4 x 20cm/8in squares caul fat (available to order from some traditional butchers), soaked

  • 500ml/17fl oz beef stock

For the onion and tongue gravy
For the fillet steaks
For the carrots
For the ceps
  • 25g/1oz butter

  • 100g/3½oz ceps, washed well to remove any grit (if using dried ceps, soak in water for 30 minutes, then drain well)

  • 50ml/2fl oz double cream

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the spinach

Preparation method

  1. For the braised oxtail, heat the dripping over a medium heat in a frying pan large enough to contain all of the oxtail pieces in a single layer. When the dripping is hot, add the oxtail pieces and fry slowly for 4-5 minutes, turning occasionally, or until browned on all sides.

  2. Add the shallots and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until softened, then add the garlic and fry for 1-2 minutes, or until softened.

  3. Remove the pan from the heat, transfer the browned oxtail, onions and garlic to a clean casserole, then set aside. Discard the dripping left in the frying pan, then add a cup of water to the pan, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Add the water and deglazed meat juices to the casserole with the oxtail pieces in it.

  4. Pour enough stock over the oxtail to just cover the meat. (NB: You may not need all of the stock.) Bring the mixture to the boil and skim off any fat that rises to the surface, then reduce the heat to a simmer and add the bay leaf. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  5. Continue to simmer the meat for 3-3½ hours, or until the meat is falling off the bone and the volume of liquid has reduced by half (add a little stock during cooking if the pan starts to dry out). Add the salt and season, to taste, with freshly ground black pepper.

  6. Meanwhile, for the basic suet dough, in a bowl, mix together the flour, suet and parsley, then season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir in the beaten egg until the mixture is smooth and well combined.

  7. Gradually add the cold water in a thin stream, mixing continuously, until the mixture comes together as a smooth, elastic dough. (NB: You may not need to use all the water.)

  8. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into four portions. Roll out each portion into a sausage shape, then wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for one hour.

  9. Grease the insides of four dariole moulds with butter. Add a small amount of flour to each, turn them to coat the sides and bottom, shaking out any excess. 10. Cut out circles of greaseproof paper and place one into the bottom of each dariole mould.

  10. When the dough has chilled, remove and discard the cling film. Pinch off a quarter of each portion of dough and set aside. Roll out the remaining pastry from each portion onto a lightly floured work surface to a 0.5cm/¼in thickness. Carefully line each dariole mould with one piece of pastry, allowing any excess pastry to hang over the edges of the mould.

  11. Roll out the reserved pieces of pastry onto a lightly floured work surface until they are just bigger than the diameter of the dariole moulds. Set aside.

  12. When the braised oxtail is tender and the sauce has reduced, fill each of the prepared dariole moulds with the stew. Place one pastry 'lid' on top of each dariole mould and press the edges together to seal using your fingers.

  13. Grease four large sheets of aluminium foil with butter, then wrap each oxtail pudding tightly in the foil.

  14. Prepare a steamer, then carefully lower the puddings into the hot water. Steam for 10-15 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside.

  15. Meanwhile, for the ox heart faggots, blend the ox heart meat, bacon, shallots, parsley, suet, salt and pepper in a food processor until the meat is minced and the mixture is well combined.

  16. Turn the mixture out into a bowl. Roll it into four equally-sized balls. Wrap each ball in one square of caul fat. (NB: Wrap the caul fat around the faggot only once or it will be chewy.) Chill in the fridge until needed.

  17. Meanwhile, for the onion and tongue gravy, heat the dripping in a frying pan over a high heat. Add the beef rib meat to the pan, in batches if necessary, and fry for 5-6 minutes, or until golden-brown all over.

  18. Add the shallots and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes, or until golden-brown. Drain off all the fat from the pan, then add a little water and, when it simmers, scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan using a wooden spoon.

  19. Add the remaining water and bring the mixture to the boil. Skim off any fat or scum rising to the surface of the liquid and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  20. Reduce the heat until the mixture is simmering, then continue to simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until thickened. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a clean pan (discard the meat and shallots).

  21. When the gravy has thickened, whisk in the cubes of butter until the sauce us thickened and glossy. Add the shallots and beef tongue.

  22. For the fillet steaks, preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

  23. Pat the steaks dry with kitchen paper. Heat an ovenproof pan over a high heat until hot. Add the oil and heat until smoking, then add the butter.

  24. When the butter is foaming, add the steaks and fry for about one minute on each side, or until browned on both sides. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  25. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer to the oven. Continue to cook the steaks for 4-6 minutes (for rare), or until cooked to your liking. Remove from the pan and set aside to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

  26. To cook the faggots, bring the beef stock to a simmer in a pan. Carefully lower the faggots into the pan and poach for 8-10 minutes, or until cooked through. Drain well and set aside. Keep warm.

  27. For the carrots, bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Add the carrots and boil for 1-2 minutes, then drain and set aside.

  28. Add the butter to the pan the carrots were cooked in and heat until the butter is foaming. Return the blanched carrots to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until just tender (be careful not to burn the butter). Drain off any excess butter.

  29. Just before serving, stir in the chopped parsley, to taste.

  30. Meanwhile, for the ceps, heat the butter in a pan over a medium heat. Add the ceps and fry for 3-4 minutes, or until golden-brown.

  31. Add the cream and stir well. Bring the cream to a simmer, then season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Continue to simmer the mixture until the volume of liquid has reduced and the sauce has thickened.

  32. Meanwhile, for the spinach, heat the butter in a lidded pan over a medium heat. Add the spinach, cover the pan and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until wilted.

  33. To serve, divide the wilted spinach equally among four serving plates. Place one faggot on top of each. Turn out one oxtail pudding onto each plate. Spoon the carrots alongside. Carve the fillet steaks into diagonal pieces and arrange alongside. Spoon the ceps over the steak and drizzle over the cream sauce. Drizzle the gravy over the puddings and faggots.

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