Fresh egg fettuccine, pressure cooked braised oxtail, demi-glace, pressure caramelized onions, star anise infused fleur de sel.
Internet, please welcome my mom to this blog. That’s right, welcome as in I never told her about it and now she accidentally found it.
At least it’s what she claims, but I don’t doubt she would google my name just to see if I’ve been convicted of drinking while driving. But joking, because I actually can’t drive (and most likely should never, ever be allowed to, drunk or sober).
Now many might think this to be an appropriate opportunity to tell a long and sentimental story about how my mother inspired me to cook at a very young age and how most recipes on this blog are things she used to cook when I was little.
Only, no. It’s not like that at all. And it was neither my grandmothers, though all of them are fantastic and creative cooks.
My obsession with cooking was inspired by some random guys.
Actually though, not so random. Mr Ramsay (still waiting for this dinner invitation, Gordon!).
Heston Blumenthal (who greatly inspired this very recipe). Giles Coren (who is by no means a hero in the kitchen but definitely a hero when it comes to eating). Is it weird for each and every one of them to be British?
All three are pretty amazing in terms of food, but Heston probably tops the list in terms of craziness.
In my opinion the most fascinating thing about him is the fact that he’s a self-taught chef.
I mean, this man uses all sorts of funky equipment you’d normally find in a laboratory and he discovered it all through meticulous research on his own.
Now if that’s not inspiring then I don’t know what is.
Of course I can never aspire to be just like Mr Blumenthal himself, first and foremost because I’m not a middle-aged bald man.
But have you ever noticed how women in the kitchen are usually seen as the dowdy home cooks while men are the heroes of elegant cuisine?
How women create pasta casseroles by adding a pinch of this, a smidgen of that and the fancy scales, thermometers and equipment to make a sous-vide cooked, lobster stuffed duck breast coated in truffled foie gras is all for the men?
No no. No more. I am one woman to challenge this.
I’m going to weigh, measure and probe to cook with as much science as my brain can possibly take. I’ll be using fancy ingredients.
Because how else am I going to bring accurate, 100% replicable recipes your way?
Modernist cooking without forgetting about traditional French cuisine is what’s inspiring me in my British boys.
One thing I did learn from my mom in the kitchen though is how to clean it spotless.
Seriously, this woman is one amazing heroine when it comes to reversing kitchen chaos.
It’s not like she has a choice with a house full of people who know how to cover a kitchen in a layer of sticky something from top to bottom.
Needless to say, nobody is allowed inside the kitchen when my mom is out of the house.
Now as I said above, Heston Blumenthal greatly inspired this recipe with his take on oxtail and kidney pudding.
Cooking the meat in the pressure cooker greatly reduces the time it takes to get fall-off-the-bone tender, plus it will render the most intense aroma by keeping in all the flavors.
For the Oxtail
- Olive oil
- 70 g celeriac, cubed, 1/2 cup
- 150 g leek, sliced, 1 2/3 cups
- 150 g carrots, peeled and sliced, 1 cup
- 30 g butter, 2 tablespoons
- 250 g onions, sliced, 2 1/3 cups
- 1 star anise
- 100 ml water, 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons
- 1.3 kg oxtail, 2.8lbs
- 200 ml red wine, 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons
- 125 ml dark beer, 1/2 cup
- 1 liter chicken stock, 1quart
- 8 black pepper corns
- 1 bayleaf
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 200 g tomatoes, halved, 3 medium
For the Infused Salt
- 1 g star anise, 1-2 pieces
- 0.2 g black pepper, 2-3 corns
- 10 g fleur de sel, 2 1/2 teaspoons
For the Pasta
- 125 g durum semolina, 3/4 cup
- 125 g pastry flour, 1 cup
- 2 g fine sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon
- 110 g eggs, 2 large
- 20 g egg yolk, 1 large
- 30 g water, 2 tablespoons
For the Caramelized Onions
- 320 g onions, thinly sliced, 3 cups
- 1 g baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon
- 20 g butter, 1 1/2 tablespoons
- Salt, to taste
To Make the Oxtail
- Place an 8 quart pressure cooker over medium heat and add enough olive oil to cover the bottom. Add the celeriac, leeks and carrots and cook for about 10 minutes or until softened, stirring frequently. Remove from the pressure cooker and set aside. Add the butter. Cook the onions and star anise in the butter until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the vegetables back in and continue cooking for 5 minutes. The bottom of the pan may turn brown, this is OK.
- Remove everything and set aside. Pour the water into the pressure cooker and scrape the bottom to get off all the browned bits. Pour the water over the vegetables.
- Put the pot back on high heat, cover the bottom with olive oil and start adding the meat, working in batches if necessary. Brown the meat on all sides. Remove from the cooker and set aside. Deglaze with the wine and beer. Add the chicken stock, peppercorns, bayleaf, thyme and tomatoes. Stir in the vegetables and oxtail you set aside.
- Close the lid and cook at a gauge pressure of 1 bar for 2 hours (start timing once the gauge pressure has been reached). Once the oxtail has finished cooking, take the pressure cooker off the heat and allow to cool for 45 minutes. Skipping this step will yield dry meat. Carefully remove it from the pot. Strain the remaining content of the cooker through a fine mesh sieve, reserving the liquid.
- Pour the liquid into a medium pot and reduce by 2/3, about 45 minutes. Remove 1/2 cup and reduce further to a syrupy/demi-glace consistency. Set aside.
- Remove the meat from the bones and add to the less reduced sauce.
To Make the Infused Salt
- Grind the star anise and black pepper in a spice or coffee grinder (or crush into a powder with a pestle and mortar) and gently toss with the fleur de sel flakes. Set aside.
To Make the Pasta
- Sift the flour together with the semolina on a clean working space. Add the salt and make a well in the middle. Add the eggs and the egg yolk to the well with the water and work into a smooth dough. Vacuum pack (or alternatively wrap in cling foil). Refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or up to overnight - this can be made in advance).
- When ready to serve, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Roll out with a pasta machine and cut into fettuccine. Allow to dry for 30 minutes before cooking al dente in well salted boiling water.
To Make the Caramelized Onions
- Toss the sliced onions for caramelizing with the baking soda. Divide evenly among four 8oz canning jars and top with an equal amount of butter each. Firmly close the lids, then open 1/4 turn to make sure the jars don't explode in the pressure cooker.
- Add a metal rack to an 8 quart pressure cooker and place the jars on top. Cover the bottom of the cooker with 2.5cm (1in) water. Close the lid and cook at a gauge pressure of 1 bar for 40 minutes. Allow to fully cool before opening the jars to prevent splattering.
- Add the pressure cooked onions to a medium pan and reduce for about 20 minutes or until the liquid has reached a syrupy consistency. Season with salt.
Caramelized onion recipe adapted from Modernist Cuisine at Home.