Crostini with Braised Oxtail, Cauliflower, Shimeji mushrooms and Quail Eggs

This recipe is based on one I found over at LXRY by Aan de Poel**’s chef Stefan van Sprang.

All in Dutch, but there are several of his recipes to be found on the site. I translated this recipe to English and you can find it below.

For last year’s Amstelveen Culinair festival, Aan de Poel served below crostini as finger food (if I recall correctly with braised spicy pork with semi dried tomatoes and roasted garlic mayo) and it was great.
IMG_1607

So when I found their recipe for a crostini with braised oxtail, I thought it would be a great option for the cookout’s main course for the carnivores. Furthermore, we thought it was a nice opportunity to add some molecular cooking elements, so we added balsamic vinegar pearls and garlic foam to this.

What worked and what didn’t:
It is an elaborate recipe although a lot of the components can be made while the oxtail is simmering for hours. Picking the meat of the bones is quite a hassle, but definitely worth it! The dish was delicious, with a nice crunch from the crostini and cauliflower and moist and intensely flavoured meat. The acidity of the balsamic vinegar pearls went well with the very rich gelatinous jus. The garlic foam gave a nice kick to the vegetables.

Recipe accuracy:
The ingredient list on the site was missing 1 ingredient (carrot) and it was also missing some other ingredients if you look at the picture on the LXRY site. Besides the 10 minutes oven roasting there are no timings indicated, so a lot has to be done based on the (general) descriptions in the recipe. You will therefore have to depend on your own senses and culinary sensibility. Therefore, no suggested tweaks from my side, but I added some of my notes to the recipe below.

We had some leftovers, so I reckon that you’d be able to serve up to 16 starters or 8 mains with this recipe. The molecular elements would easily accommodate these volumes too.

Verdict: 8/10; Very nice, but quite a lot of work. Nevertheless, I will definitely be using the oven roasting and the stock for other cuts of braising meat.

The Recipes

Crostini with braised oxtail and turnip

  • 2 kg / 4 lbs. oxtail (ours were 2.4 kg / 5 lbs. cut up in 5 cm / 2″ sections)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 200g / 6oz. celery stalk
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 liter / 4 cups red wine
  • 1 liter / 4 cups beef stock
  • 2 thick slices dark full-grain bread
  • 1 turnip (we skipped it as we didn’t have any room on the stove…)
  • 1 violet cauliflower (we could only find a bright green one)
  • 100g / 3oz cantharel mushrooms (we used shimeji/beech mushrooms)
  • cress
  • quail eggs
  1. Put the oxtail (sections) in a roasting tin and put it in a preheated oven (at 250C/400F) for 10 minutes for colour, taste and getting rid of any excess fat
  2. Roughly chop the onion, garlic, carrot, celery and tomato and together with the peppercorns and bay leaves sauté in a big heavy based pan in a glug of olive oil. (big = really big as we were able to fill a Crockpot slowcooker and a 26 cm / 10″ diameter Dutch Oven each with a single layer of oxtail sections)
  3. When the vegetables are softened and slightly browned add the red wine and deglaze
  4. Add the roasted oxtail (sections) and add the beef stock until just covered and let it simmer until the meat comes off the bone easily (we had it in the slowcooker about 5 hours)
  5. Take the oxtail out, let it cool slightly and then pick off the flesh from the bones (we got about 1kg meat from the initial 2.4kg weight)
  6. In the meantime, for the jus, reduce the stock and then strain it through a sieve (as we were afraid that the veggies would stick to the pan while reducing, so we decided to strain it first. On high heat it took about 30 minutes to get a jus consistency)
  7. Add the majority of the jus to the meat to keep the oxtail moist and season if necessary (we did not need to). Save some of the jus for plating up.
  8. For the crostini: remove the crust from the slices of bread and cut in a nice shape (in the recipe they did a rectangle as it’s more like a starter size, so we just did a rectangle to be able pile up all the oxtail). Cook the crostini in a pan with a little oil until crispy (2-3 minutes each side).
  9. As garnish: braised turnip, braised cauliflower florets and sautéed mushrooms and serve with the jus (we also added boiled quail eggs, cress, balsamic vinegar pearls and garlic foam).
Garlic foam
  • 150ml water
  • 150ml milk (full fat or semi-skimmed)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2g of soy lechitine
  1. Put the first 3 ingredients in a tall container and sprinkle in the soy lechitine.
  2. Mix it a couple of minutes with a stick blender until foamy and presto.
Balsamic vinegar pearls
  • 180ml balsamic vinegar
  • 2g of agar-agar
  • neutral vegetable oil
  1. Place a tall glass of vegetable oil in the freezer, allowing it to cool for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Heat balsamic vinegar and sprinkle in agar-agar. Stir until the agar-agar is completely dissolved.
  3. Bring the preparation to a boil and remove from stove at soon as it starts boiling (to activate agar-agar’s properties it should at least be above 90°C /194°F, but not kept boiling)
  4. Using a pipette, drip droplets of the agar-agar preparation into the cold oil.
  5. Collect the pearls using a sieve and rinse the pearls with water.

The trick is that the oil should be cold enough and the glass tall enough for the gelification process to be completed before the drops of the agar-agar solution reach the bottom of the glass. If the oil is too cold the droplets will float. Should this happen, keep dripping droplets of the hot preparation into the oil; the droplets will start sinking as the oil warms up. Shapeless or flat pearls indicate that the oil was not cold enough or that the glass used wasn’t deep enough.

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