A Controversial Kleftico (and it’s illegitimate offspring)
October 7, 2010 2 Comments
It was a cold and stormy Winter’s night..… OK, it wasn’t. It was actually an annoyingly rainy and depressingly premature Autumn morning. I was going out to a gig for pretty much the whole day. Luckily though, I’d cunningly foreseen the situation of getting home hungry, wet and weary that evening, so I’d taken the Oxtail that I had in the freezer out to thaw, the night before. My initial intent was to make a curry in the slow cooker, leaving it to cook all day while I was out. However, while flicking through some food photos from my Facebook food group “Foodbook Photos” I came across the Kleftico I made a while ago from a very simple authentic family recipe given to me by a Greek friend. Since it involved rather less preparation than the curry, I settled on the idea of trying to make the Kleftico with the oxtail.
Now I’m aware that proper Kleftico is a lamb dish, and also that there are many variation’s on the recipe, so maybe what I was about to make couldn’t really be called Kleftico (indeed, I had a couple of people on Twitter saying as much), and also that it is made in a conventional oven rather than a slow cooker.
So what I should really call my dish maybe is Greek style oxtail casserole…..? Whatever…!! But it was very nice.
Here’s what I did:
Firstly I set out my oxtail in preparation. It was already chopped into handy chunks:
I then sliced up a couple of large onions:
And halved some sweet vine ripened tomatoes:
I then browned the oxtail off in a frying pan, since it would be going into the slow cooker instead of an oven:
Next I selected a handful of choice bay leaves:
I then layered the onions and the oxtail in the slowcooker:
To make the cooking liquid I dissolved a tablespoon of tomato puree and some salt in some hot water:
Then arranged the bayleaves and tomatoes in with the oxtail, and poured the liquid into the pot:
Lid went on and I went out for the day:
When I came back, approximately 8 hours later everything seemed to have cooked down nicely:
I then gently stirred it, being careful not to break up the oxtail, but making sure to mix the onions up from the bottom:
Lid then went back on for another hour or so, then it would be ready for serving.
Before serving it however, I carefully spooned some of the loose fat away that had settled on the top, so it wouldn’t be so rich:
I then squeezed in plenty of lemon juice:
..and served out simply with some mash potato:
The flavour was rich, beefy and warming, with that very particular piquancy that you get when mixing tomatoes with lemon (which I also think you get in Madras curries).
Now for the offspring: I had a lot of the stocky cooking liquid left and also quite a lot of meat. So the next day I separated the meat from the bones, and made an oxtail and beetroot curry, simmered in a little of the stock, and served it with with a dhal and vegetable sambar curry and a peas and mushroom saffron pullao.
The leftover meat was rich and gelatinous and was fairly fantastic with the beetroot:
…and finally, the next day, I still had quite a lot of stock leftover, so I used it to make a Chilli Con Carne made with smoked chipotle paste, dried homegrown red chillies and Tabasco and served it with corn tortillas. It was quite spectacular, and was easily the best Chilli I’ve ever made…. all down to the rich stock I’m convinced.
…and the moral of this story is, always buy oxtail, and never listen to pedants :)