• We absolutely love a good oxtail, especially when the colder months come around. This delicious oxtail with herby polenta dumplings is perfect for a lazy afternoon. Grab a glass of your favourite red, sit back and enjoy!

    Oxtail with herby polenta dumplings

    By Nomvuselelo Mncube Serves: 4 – 6
    Total Time: 5 hrs 30 mins


    • OXTAIL

    • 80g cake flour
    • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    • 1,2kg oxtail
    • 30ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
    • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
    • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
    • 3cm ginger, peeled and grated
    • 2 leeks cut in half, rinsed and chopped
    • 2 celery stalks, chopped
    • handful fresh rosemary sprigs
    • handful fresh thyme sprigs
    • 4 bay leaves
    • 2 x 410g tins chopped tomatoes
    • 300ml red wine
    • 1L beef stock
    • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced

    • 120g instant polenta
    • 150g self-raising flour
    • 1,25ml (¼ tsp) bicarbonate of soda
    • 2,5ml (½ tsp) salt
    • 80g butter, softened
    • 125ml (½ cup) buttermilk
    • handful fresh thyme leaves, parsley and coriander, chopped



    In a large mixing bowl, season the cake flour to taste. Add the oxtail, tossing to coat thoroughly. Remove the oxtail, shaking off the excess flour.


    In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the oxtail in batches and brown on all sides. Remove the oxtail from the pot and set aside until needed.


    To the same pot, add the onion and fry for 1 minute, before adding the garlic and ginger. Cook for another minute before adding the leeks, celery, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, tomatoes, wine and stock, and stir until simmering.


    Return the oxtail to the pot, cover, and cook over low heat for 4½ hours, stirring occasionally. Keep checking to make sure the sauce doesn’t dry out, adding a little water if necessary. Add the carrots and cook for another 30 minutes.


    While the oxtail is cooking, prepare the dumplings. In a large mixing bowl, combine the polenta, self-raising flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Using the tips of your fingers, rub the butter into the polenta mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs.


    Create a small well in the centre of the polenta mix and pour in the buttermilk. Add the herbs and gradually mix to combine. Be careful not to overwork the mixture.


    When the mixture is combined, scoop about 30ml (2 tbsp) of dough and roll it into a ball. Transfer the ball to a plate and repeat these steps until all the dough is used. Cover the dumplings with cling film and set aside to rest, 20 minutes.


    Add the dumplings to the oxtail and continue to cook, covered, 30 minutes.


    Remove from heat and serve.

    ALSO SEE: Apricot and tomato oxtail stew

    Apricot and tomato oxtail stew

    Recipe and styling by Nomvuselelo Mncube

    Photograph by Dylan Swart 

    Imka Webb

    Imka Webb is a freelance digital marketing expert and the digital editor of Food & Home Entertaining magazine.  www.imkawebb.com