Braised oxtail with star anise


1 large onion

4 large garlic cloves

1 x 5cm piece fresh root ginger

2kg oxtail pieces

Freshly milled black pepper

3 x 15ml spoon sunflower oil

1.4 litres boiling water and 2 beef stock cubes

OR 1.4 litres good, hot beef stock

4 whole star anise

2 x 15ml spoon light brown sugar

Small bunch fresh thyme sprigs

Extra fresh thyme sprigs, to garnish

For parsnip and potato gratin:

300g potatoes and parsnips

25g butter

1 x 15ml spoon fresh thyme leaves

600ml double cream

25-50g Cheddar cheese

Freshly ground black pepper


For the braised oxtail - Chopping board, vegetable knife, large mixing bowl, measuring spoons, large non-stick frying pan, fish slice, 2.8 litre casserole dish with a lid, wooden spoon, kettle, measuring jug or small saucepan.

For the gratin - vegetable peeler, large saucepan, colander, chopping board, vegetable knife, cheese grater, 1.2 litre casserole dish, small saucepan, measuring spoon.


Braised oxtail

  1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3 or 170°C.
  2. Peel and slice the onion.
  3. Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves.
  4. Peel and finely chop the fresh ginger.
  5. Place the oxtail in a large bowl and season with pepper.
  6. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan and cook the oxtail pieces in batches for 3-4 minutes until brown. Transfer to a 2.8 litre ovenproof casserole dish using a fish slice.  Wash and dry hands thoroughly if you have touched the raw oxtail.
  7. In the same frying pan, add extra oil if required and cook the onion, garlic and ginger for 5 minutes over a moderate heat until soft, but not coloured and transfer to the casserole dish.
  8. Boil a kettle and make the stock in a measuring jug or heat the fresh stock in a saucepan.
  9. Add the hot stock, star anise, brown sugar and thyme leaves to the casserole dish.
  10. Place the dish on the hob and bring to the boil.
  11. Cover the casserole dish and cook in the oven (or on the hob) for 3½ hours.
  12. When cooked, garnish with fresh thyme leaves.

Parsnip and potato gratin

  1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3 or 170°C.
  2. Peel the potatoes and parsnips.
  3. Fill a saucepan with water and boil the potatoes and parsnips for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Drain carefully into the sink using a colander. Set aside to cool.
  5. Slice the cooled potatoes and parsnips.
  6. Grate the cheese.
  7. Grease a 1.2 litre casserole dish with the butter and arrange the potatoes and parsnips in layers. Season well with black pepper.
  8. Heat the cream in a small saucepan and pour over the potatoes and parsnips.
  9. Scatter the thyme leaves and top with the cheese.
  10. Bake in the oven for 30 – 35 minutes until bubbling and golden.

Top tips:

  • Serve with fresh seasonal vegetables such as red cabbage.
  • To reduce the energy, fat and saturated fat content of the gratin, use reduced fat cream or low fat yogurt and reduced fat cheese.


Why not use the Explore Food calculator, the British Nutrition Foundation's free online nutritional analysis programme, to calculate the nutritional information for this and other Food - a fact of life recipes?


Food skills:

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Cut, Chop, Slice, Dice & Trim
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Melt, simmer and boil
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Fry & Sauté
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Decorate & Garnish
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