An ode to the hearty winter stew
By Joshua Sutherland, Bachelor of Health Science (Nutritional Medicine)
As a nutritionist, I’ve explored the wonders of biochemistry, and traversed the rocky terrain of academic research. However, throughout it all there have remained a number of enduring truths… certain kinds of knowingness – if you will – that seem eternally self-evident.
I was reminded of one such knowingness when I was recently exploring winter nutrition. This knowingness declares – in no uncertain terms – that when winter strikes, our bodies require the nutritional equivalent of a big, warm motherly hug!
As trite as that may sound, I must admit to such moments filling my winter days… and for this I feel blessed. Moments where lovingly prepared meals have warmed my soul back to life, and filled my home with the kind of love that keeps the elements at bay.
For me, it was my mother who spun these timeless culinary spells, and it is only now – from my 21st century vantage point – that I fully appreciate the digital-less manner by which she garnered her inspiration. She had no food blogs, recipe websites, or other such options – all of which I unceremoniously engage with, in a hasty and perhaps unconsidered manner.
With this in mind, I recently found myself inspired to go ‘old school’ and explore my family bookcase. In one fell swoop, I pushed all the celebrity chef cookbooks aside. Lurking in the depths was my great-grandmother’s 100 year old copy of Mrs Beetons Household Management, and my mother’s Australian Woman’s Weekly Recipe Card Library. I was instantly struck with wealth of carefully considered wisdom contained in these dusty artefacts.
Particularly noteworthy was the abundance of ‘snout to tail’ methods of cooking. Such methods are experiencing a revival today, particularly amongst traditionalists who wish to respect animal husbandry by avoiding any form of needless waste. It is with this method that I wish to explore a recipe for a hearty winter stew. One that reflects the wisdom of our past, whilst considering the conveniences of our present.
Slow Cooked Oxtail Stew
The following recipe is inspired from several original sources, however, several key recommendations have been made, in order to ensure the best possible nutritional practices are adhered to.
- Source pastured, organic beef
- Use homemade bone broth / stock
- Use a gluten free thickener flour
- Use tomatoes from a BPA free can
- 1kg oxtail pieces
- Healthy cooking oil – ghee, coconut, olive
- 1 large onion
- 2 medium sticks celery
- 5 medium carrots
- ½ cup red wine
- 1 & ½ cups beef broth / stock
- 1 400g tin of tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- Thickening flour
- Chop oxtail in 4cm chunks (ask your butcher to do this). Brown tail in a large pan, using your choice of healthy cooking oil. Place oxtail aside and add the onions to the pan, peeled and sliced.
- When lightly browned, reduce the heat and add the carrots and celery. Sauté for 5 minutes.
- Add the oxtail, onion, celery, carrots, wine, beef stock, tomatoes and herbs to a slow cooker.
- Cook on a high heat, until stew is bubbling, then reduce to medium. Cook for 8 hours, or until oxtail is tender.
- Thicken stew with your gluten-free thickening flour of choice. Gluten free corn-starch is suitable for most people with sensitive GITs, whilst glucomannan powder (start slowly with a teaspoon) constitutes a novel approach for non-gut-sensitive individuals.
Mrs Beeton’s Household Management – bone broth, page 139
The Australian Woman’s Weekly Recipe Card Library – best beef recipes, card 17