Braised oxtail raviolo with wild mushroom risotto, leek cream, braised cabbage and parsley oil

15 March 2019

Braised oxtail raviolo

This recipe was the culmination of my week’s experimentation with braising with not one, but two braised elements. It includes rich meaty oxtail and adds in an element that I would never have thought to braise in the past - little gem lettuces. Add in pasta, wild mushroom risotto, leek cream and a parsley oil, and you’ve got a dinner party dish that packs a real punch of flavour and looks a bit fancy.

The centrepiece is the raviolo. One large pasta parcel sat on top of the mushroom risotto. The trick is to use enough of the lovely braising liquid to moisten and add to the flavour of the oxtail without making it too wet. And, of course, keeping enough for the sauce to add onto the plate.


Braising the oxtail
Parsley oil
Uncooked ravioli

When I cooked this I took the risotto from start to finish just before serving. Which is great, but if you’re doing it for a dinner party dish, you don’t want to be leaving your guests for 20 minutes or so before you serve the main course. The restaurant trick is to take the risotto base to the point where it is nearly cooked but not quite, and then to spread the rice out to cool and keep it in the fridge until it’s time to finish it off. At that point then you just reheat your remaining stock and put the rice into the warmed pan and recommence the process for the last couple of minutes.

You don’t have to add the parsley oil if you’d rather simplify it just a bit. However it’s easy to make - you just need to set it up in advance. And it adds to the appearance and flavour just enough to elevate it to another level.

You’ll note that there’s rather a lot of chicken stock involved in this recipe! It’s worth it though.

Braised oxtail raviolo with wild mushroom risotto, leek cream, braised cabbage and parsley oil

Lots of elements to this, but if you just want a fabulous meal without the fancy, you can miss out the leek cream and the parsley oil. They don't take long to make though, so why not?

Serves: 4

Parsley Oil

1 large bunch parsley 
200ml cup neutral oil, like vegetable or groundnut oil

Leek Cream

3 leeks
200ml double cream
25g unsalted butter

Braised Oxtail

1 oxtail, cut into sections
Plain flour
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1 tablespoon, tomato purée
1 clove garlic
3 sprigs thyme
1 bottle red wine
500ml chicken stock

150g risotto rice
750ml chicken stock
1 small glass white wine
20g unsalted butter
1 banana shallot, finely chopped
25g dried porcini mushrooms
A handful of fresh wild mushrooms


250g tip 00 flour
1 whole free range egg
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons water


Start by making the parsley oil. The day before you’re cooking the meal, put the vegetable or groundnut oil (any neutral flavoured oil is fine here, so not olive oil) with the large bunch of parsley in a blender and whizz for a couple of minutes. Line a sieve with some muslin or, if you don’t have muslin, just a single sheet of kitchen paper. Pour the blended mix into the sieve over a small bowl. Put this in the fridge to gradually trickle through overnight.

The next day, remove carefully from the fridge without agitating. You may find that there is some very clear green oil plus some sediment. Carefully pour the clear oil into a small container being careful not to transfer the sediment at the same time. Reserve.

Braising the oxtail is a familiar process now if you read the previous blog post on braising techniques. Heat approx three tablespoons of oil in good-sized casserole pan to a medium high heat. Dust the oxtail pieces with the flour and then a couple at a time brown them all over in the pan. You do them in small numbers at a time so that they fry in the oil and don’t begin to steam. It’s the browning that helps add just that extra bit of flavour. When each batch are done, set aside until you’ve done them all.

Reduce the heat slightly, and add the aromatic vegetables that form the base for your sauce - the carrot, celery and onion, plus the garlic and the thyme. Sauté these gently until they’re softened but not coloured. Then deglaze the pan with the red wine, bring to the boil and simmer until the volume of the liquid has gone down by half. Then add back in the oxtail along with 500ml of the chicken stock. Bring back up to the boil, and then turn down to a very gentle simmer. The heat should be on the lowest setting, and just very gentle bubbles. Put a cartouche (a circle of greaseproof paper with a small hole in the middle) over the pan, and leave to barely simmer for approximately three hours, or until the meat is tender and falling off the bone.

While the oxtail is braising, make the pasta dough. Place the flour on a clean work surface. Using a scraper, just separate out about one eighth of the flour. This will give you the option to check whether the dough is too wet, and add more flour. So you may or may not need that extra bit. Different flour absorbs liquid to different degrees, hence you have to go by feel and not just follow quantities.

Create a small well in the middle. Add the egg, egg yolks, olive oil, water and salt into the middle and mix together, gradually drawing in flour from the outside to the centre. Once it gets a bit thicker and more doughy, continue mixing with your hands and then knead it until it has become completely homogenous. If the dough is too wet, add in some of the reserved flour. If it’s too dry, add another tablespoon of water. It will make the surface very sticky, but keep kneading it for a few minutes until the added liquid has become fully incorporated.

Put clingfilm around the dough and put it in the fridge to rest for at least an hour.

Once the oxtail is cooked, remove the meat from the bone, shred it with a fork and set aside. Strain the braising liquid into a new pan and reduce down until a sauce consistency and a rich lovely flavour. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add a couple of tablespoons of the sauce to moisten the meat mixture and add to the flavour, but don’t overdo it.

Roll out the pasta using a pasta machine to create sheets at the thinnest setting. Put a ball of the meat onto  a square of the pasta. Brush around the meat with some water. Then cover with another piece of pasta being careful not to get air trapped inside. Use a 2-3 inch round cutter to cut out the final raviolo shape. Set to one side on a tray lightly covered with flour. 

Make the leek cream. Trim and finely chop the leeks. Cook them gently in the butter until they have become very tender, but not coloured. About 20 minutes. Add the cream and cook for a few minutes and then allow to cool. Put the mixture into a blender and bait for a couple of minutes until it is fairly firm. Set to one side.

Cut the baby gem lettuces in half, and sear in oil cut-side down for a minute or two until there’s some colour but it’s not burnt. Set them to one side. 

Now make the risotto. 

Place 750ml chicken stock in a pan and heat gently.

Soak the dried porcini in enough hot water to cover for 10 minutes until the mushrooms have softened and the water has taken on some of the flavour of the mushrooms. Add the soaking water to the chicken stock. Finely chop the porcini and set aside.

Gently fry the shallot in the butter until softened, and then add the risotto rice. Continue frying for a few minutes until it begins to sizzle. Then add the glass of white wine and stir until it has been fully absorbed. Then begin adding the stock, one ladleful at a time, stirring constantly until that stock has been absorbed before adding the next one. 

If you’re doing this for a dinner party (so you want less time for last minute finishing off and serving) cook like this for about 14 minutes until the rice is nearly cooked but not quite. Then, when it’s quite dry (i.e. before you add another ladleful of stock) remove it from the pan and spread it out on a tray to quickly cool down. Store in the fridge until you need it. If you’re not doing it that way, then begin cooking the lettuce  and the raviolo at about the same point you would have stopped cooking the rice.

Ready to finish and serve?

Heat up the remaining chicken stock to a simmer. If, like me, you only have four rings on your cooker you can then take this off the heat and have it on a heatproof mat on one side.

Get the pasta cooking water, generously salted, up to a rolling boil.

Get the risotto pan heated up again.

Get a pan large enough to snugly fit in the lettuce and heat up.

Pour the sauce into a small saucepan and gently reheat.

Put the baby gem lettuces, cut side up, into the pan and add enough hot stock to nearly but not quite cover. Simmer this covered gently (should take about five minutes to cook).

After a couple of minutes, put risotto rice back into the hot pan, and add a ladleful of stock and, at the same time, put the raviolo in to cook. 

Stir in the porcini and the fresh wild mushrooms into the risotto. Taste and add seasoning if it needs it. 

Once the raviolo and lettuce have cooked it’s time to serve up.

Place a small mound of risotto in the centre of the plate and top with a raviolo. Put a half lettuce on the side, pour over the sauce. Top with a quenelle of the leek cream, and drizzle with a little of the parsley oil. 

Food waste

Making the pasta will leave you with four egg whites. Keep them in the fridge in a sealed container for up to a week and use them to make a pale omelette, or whisk them to make soufflés or meringues. If you’re not going to do any of that in the next week, you can freeze egg whites perfectly well until you need them.

You’ll have the remainder of the bottle of white wine left as well. I’m going to leave it entirely to you to decide what to do with that …