Having eaten my fair share of sliders in the US, I’ve been musing over the idea of doing an Anglicised version of these over grown amuse-bouches. I hit on the idea of doing an Ox Tail version around a week ago, but didn’t really have the perfect vehicle for the meat. Then the other day, almost as if he sensed my bun based anguish, Dan Lepard sent me a recipe for his slider buns that are in the Hawksomoor At Home book to try. The recipe will appear in this weekend’s Guardian, and you’ll discover that it contains custard powder. Yep, you read that right, custard powder. As crazy as it sounds, it’s actually a work of evil genius as it makes the buns tender, gives them a brioche like colour, and is vegan to boot.
The Ox Tail gets slow cooked for around 4 hours, so this definitely isn’t a 30 minute meal. In fact some might describe it as ‘a long walk for a ham sandwich’, but I think it’s worth it, and is a great way to use a much under appreciated cut of meat. I’ve served it with a crunchy, sharp, almost Summery slaw to cut through the fatty, sticky meat a bit, but these guys are still definitely winter warmers.
Ingredients (makes 10-12)
For the meaty bit
1 kg Ox Tail
300 ml red wine
300 ml beef stock
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
2 sticks celery, roughly chopped
1 chilli, sliced down the middle
3 sprigs of both rosemary & thyme, tied together
1 tsp Chinese five spice
1 tbs redcurrant jelly
Salt & pepper to taste
Seasoned flour – 2 tbs flour, 1tsp smoked paprika, salt and pepper
For the slaw
1/4 head red cabbage, finely sliced
3 spring onions, finely sliced
1/3 cucumber, finely sliced
Dressing - 100ml olive oil, 50ml lemon juice, 1tsp Dijon mustard, salt & pepper to taste
The first thing to do is get that meat on. Turn your oven on to 160 c, and then in a freezer bag, dump in 2 tablespoons of flour, one teaspoon of smoked paprika and the salt and pepper. Give it a shake to mix it all together, then add the ox tail joints and give it another shake to coat them. Take them out of the bag, pat off the excess flour, and set aside.
Next, in a heavy casserole dish, melt a good nob of butter in some olive oil. Get it good and hot and then brown off the ox tail evenly on all sides. Do this is two batches, and when done set aside again. Roughly chop the veg and garlic, slice your chilli down the center, and add to the hot dish along with the five spice. Stir for a couple of minutes, being careful not to burn the spice and then de-glaze the pan with the red wine and beef stock, and bring to the boil.
Now add the tied herbs, the tomato puree and redcurrant jelly, and once the latter have dissolved, add the ox tail back into the pot (the liquid in the pot should almost cover the joints). Place on the lid and stick it in the oven to slow cook for around 4 hours.
Next make the slaw. Slice the red cabbage, cucumber and spring onions as finely as possible, and then make the dressing with the olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon and seasoning. Give it a good mix and then pour over the vegetables, making sure to coat them all thoroughly. Ideally you should do this a couple of hours before you eat, as the dressing will soften the cabbage and give all the flavours a chance to mingle.
After 4 hours, take the casserole dish out of the oven. Prod the meat, and if it falls off the bone, it’s ready. Remove the joints from the pot, and then pass the cooking liquor through a sieve into a bowl, discarding and bits of herb and vegetable, and then set aside.
When the joints have cooled a bit, remove all the meat from the bones, shredding it as you pull it off. Once you’ve got it all, pop it into the bowl with the liquid, and give it a good stir. You should be left with an unctuous, sticky, very thick, meaty sauce. You’re now ready to assemble the sliders.
Cut the buns in half, and then dollop a generous portion of the meat on the bottom half. Top this with a good helping of the slaw. Pop on the top, and eat. Now wasn’t that worth it?