Cocoa was one of the discoveries Columbus made while searching the spice routes in the East. Tartlet of braised oxtail with pears and bitter chocolate certainly does his discovery justice. This is an elegant dish of smooth chocolate combined with dark beer and tender meat.
Tartlet of braised oxtail with pears and bitter chocolate
- 2 large red radishes
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice vegetable oil, for cooking
- 2 x 500g (1 lb 2 oz) oxtails, trimmed and cut into 4 equal-sized pieces
- salt, to taste
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 garlic clove, sliced
- 125ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) port
- juice and finely grated zest of 1 orange
- 500ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) beef stock
- 500ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) porter or other dark beer
- 1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
- 50g (1¾ oz) butter, diced
- 60g (2 oz) dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken up
- 12 savoury tartlet shells (3cm/1¼ inches in diameter)
- baby herbs, to garnish
- 30ml (1 fl oz) vegetable oil
- 5 French shallots, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 head cauliflower, chopped
- 500ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) chicken stock
- salt and ground black pepper, to taste
To make the cauliflower purée, heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, add the shallot and garlic and cook until soft but not coloured. Add the cauliflower and stock and cook until the cauliflower has softened and is breaking apart. Strain and reserve the liquid.
Purée the solids until smooth, thinning with some of the reserved liquid if necessary.
Season with salt and pepper. Set aside and keep warm.
Peel and thinly slice the radishes. Cover with the lemon juice and a little water and set aside until needed.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F/Gas 4). Heat a little bit of oil in a large ovenproof frying pan over high heat, season the oxtail with salt, add to the pan and cook until browned on all sides.
Remove from the pan and set aside.
Add the onion and garlic to the same pan and cook over medium heat until brown. 8. Return the oxtail to the pan, deglaze with the port and orange juice, reduce the heat and cook until the liquid is syrupy.
Add the stock, beer, pepper and orange zest, cover with baking paper and place in the oven for about 3 hours or until the meat is very tender.
When the oxtail is cooked, remove from the pan and while still hot, remove all the meat from the bones and keep warm.
Place a sieve over a bowl and strain the cooking liquid. Pour the liquid into a clean pan and reduce to a syrupy consistency, then whisk in the butter and chocolate.
Add the oxtail meat and stir to coat.
To serve, place a teaspoonful of the cauliflower purée into each tartlet shell, then the oxtail mixture and garnish with the radish and baby herbs.