Hello everyone. Don’t worry, we haven’t frozen to death in our gardens, we’ve just been run off our feet with Christmas suppers and their attendant duties. Ever since last year’s excellent adventures in Brixton and Shoreditch, we’ve been looking forward to cooking up another Salad Club Christmas. This year we headed back East to celebrate the festive season with a series of banquets at Space in Between. There was a lot of shopping, chopping, driving, stewing, swearing, roasting, basting and mulling last week and we loved every minute! Thank you to Hannah and Laura at the gallery for letting us take over their kitchen and for waitressing so effortlessly and elegantly and sorry to everyone who missed out last night when our last supper of the year was very sadly snowed off.
Our two different Christmas menus this year featured melt in the mouth Iberico pata negra ham, Ellie’s slow roasted Lebanese lamb and giant cous cous tabbouleh, plum and ginger crumble, spiced pilaf with caramelised onions, orange and cinnamon pastel de nata and a rich and deep oxtail stew which goes a little something like this…
Smokey Spanish oxtail stew. Serves 6.
Like most stews, this one works best if you cook it the night before. It needs a long time in the oven and then, ideally, needs to cool in the fridge so you can skim off the fat easily before reheating.
Ask your butcher to chop 1.5kg of oxtail into large chunks. Preheat the oven to 150ºC. Coat the oxtail in seasoned flour and pour a good glug of olive oil into a pan big enough to hold the stew. Once the oil is hot, brown the chunks of oxtail all over then set them aside (you may have to do this in batches). Once all the meat is browned, deglaze the pan with a large glass of red wine and scrape off any meat that’s stuck to the bottom. Pour this liquid into a jug and set aside for later.
Turn off the heat and let a knob of butter melt in the pan while you slice 2 red onions and roughly dice 2 carrots. Turn the heat back on to medium and add a splash of olive oil to stop the butter burning. Tip in the onions and carrots along with a large chopped red chili (with seeds), 2 bay leaves and 2 star anise. When the onions and carrots are starting to soften, add 2 heaped teaspoons of smoked paprika and 1 of cumin along with a good squeeze of tomato puree and stir everything together.
Return the oxtail to the pan with the reserved juices from earlier, a tin of plum tomatoes and enough beef stock to cover all the meat. Bring to the boil, cover and put the stew in the oven. After 5 hours, turn the oven off but leave the pot in there until it has completely cooled down (if you turn the oven off before you go to bed it should be cool when you get up). Put the stew in the fridge for a few hours then spoon off the fat layer from the top and discard.
Return the stew to the hob, add some cooked pinto or butter beans and season well to taste. Serve in a big warm dish in the middle of the table topped with finely chopped thyme, garlic and lemon zest and a spoonful of Greek yogurt.
Now our last secret suppers of the year have been scoffed, plans are underway for more collaborations in the new year so we can be sure to keep everyone well fed through the winter. We’re also looking forward to getting our heads down and our aprons on to write our very own Salad Club cookbook. It’s been an exciting year and that’s very much down to you so thank you and Merry Christmas!
Rosie & Ellie x