Oxtail braised with cinnamon and preserved lemon

Oxtail braised with cinnamon and preserved lemon

New Middle Eastern Food
Mark Roper

Oxtail is a favourite winter dish—all sticky-sweet and richly tender strips of gelatinous meat which, when cooked long enough and slow enough, fall away from their little knuckle of cartilage. A further bonus of this type of dish is that it requires minimal effort. Once the preparation is done, just put it in the oven and leave it alone.


Quantity Ingredient
3kg oxtail, cut into pieces
1 generous tablespoon ground ginger
150g plain flour
80ml olive oil
2 large onions, roughly diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 sticks celery, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Preserved lemons and limes, diced, rind only
8 cloves
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 x 400g cans crushed tomatoes
100g pitted green olives
400ml gutsy red wine
2 bay leaves
1/2 orange, zested
500ml chicken stock or water
6 baby turnips, peeled and cut into small dice
mashed potatoes, to serve


  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
  2. Get the butcher to trim any large lumps of fat away from the oxtail for you, and cut it through into nice little sections about 5 cm long.
  3. Mix the ginger with the flour and use it to dust the oxtail pieces.
  4. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based casserole dish and then brown the meat all over. Once coloured, remove the meat pieces from the pan. Add the onions, garlic and celery with the cinnamon, preserved lemon rind, cloves and paprika. Stir until everything is well mixed. Add the tomatoes, olives and wine. Tuck in the bay leaves and orange peel and return the oxtail to the tomato base. Pour in enough stock or water to just cover the meat, raise the heat and bring to the boil.
  5. Cover the casserole and put it in the middle of the oven. Leave it for an hour, then remove it from the oven and stir everything around gently. Return it to the oven and cook for a further hour, by which time the meat will be a lovely glossy dark brown, and the sauce will have reduced to a sticky glaze.
  6. Steam the turnips for 6 minutes, or until tender. Drain well, sprinkle with a little sea salt and keep warm.
  7. Serve the oxtail in a large serving bowl and scatter on the steamed turnip. Serve straight away with a big bowl of garlicky mashed potatoes.
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