Oxtail and barley

Serves 4 people


  • approximately 2lbs oxtail
  • 2 red onions, peeled and chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped
  • a small handful of dried porcini
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 whole star anise
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
  • 1 can of  plum tomatoes
  • 2 cups of beef broth
  • 1/2 cup of barley
  • a splash of olive oil


Heat the oven to 350F. In a heavy-bottomed ovenproof dish, heat a splash of olive oil and gently fry the onions, carrots, garlic, rosemary, porcini, star anise, and cinnamon for 5 minutes until softened slightly. Trim the oxtail of excess fat. Season the oxtail with salt and pepper then toss in the flour, shaking off any excess. Add the meat to the dish and stir everything together, then add the tomatoes, broth, and barley. Gently bring to the boil, cover with a  lid and place in the oven for 3 hours or until the oxtail is tender and comes off the bone easily. Taste and check the seasoning, remove the cinnamon stick and star anise. Serve with some mashed turnips or other mashed root vegetable.

A note about beef: always use grass-fed, organic meat. Oxtail is a great cut to buy because it is much less expensive than other cuts. It needs slow cooking, but the finished product is wonderfully delicious. I am lucky enough to be able to shop at a butcher that has only meat from pasture raised animals. Visit John Robbins’ website for more information on grass fed beef.

David Millett Publications

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