Oxtail has a gorgeous sticky meaty flavour, and makes an impressive burger, it takes a long time and this recipe is intensive. You couldn’t call this burger fast food, but I love making them for the indulgence and a what I’d say is the tastiest burger you’ve ever tried.
I had the idea from a restaurant in Spain where my wife and I sat at a bar while the chefs bought us the most amazing tapas, it was a modern spanish menu with a fusion of international styles. Plenty of long cooked meat dishes, some melting Pata Negra hams and some amazing ceviche and spanish sushi type tasters. The service was fast and professional, with a great choice of wine by the glass. It could cost you a small fortune, but also you could eat there on a budget. I had one of their oxtail burgers, it arrived on a small plate in a little soft bun with a few leaves of crisp lettuce and a dollop of fresh mayonnaise. It was mesmerising, enormously tasty and hard not to keep ordering more and more.
At our pub I would occasionally serve three burgers as a starter, with a rich hot sauce from the reduction, and a little fresh mayonnaise on the side. I’d place the sticky burgers in little brioche buns with rocket.
Oxtail is the tastiest of beef cuts, but it requires several hours of cooking to release the succulent meat from the grip of tough fats- it must be all that swishing. The beauty of this burger is you get all that lip smacking flavour without chasing a bone around the plate. The mixing of prune and oxtail is an old British idea and works well along with some sharpness from the pickled walnut balanced with the ugami saltiness of anchovies.
Dice an onion and garlic and sweat in butter, then add your oxtail, I used 5lb for eight burgers, so adjust accordingly. Then add a handful of prunes, a couple of chopped pickled walnuts, six anchovies, a glass of red wine and a glass of dark stout or beer and a tot of good sherry vinegar. Then top up with water and bring to a slow boil, and simmer for 3-4 hours or more. The meat is done when it easily comes off the bone, so keep an eye on it towards the end of cooking. Remove the meat carefully, and then sieve the stock and put by. When the meat has cooled you can pull it from the bone and add it to the the contents of the sieve. I like to make sure there is no gristle by breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon.
To make the patties I add a half a cup of breadcrumbs and form the patties into balls before flattening slightly. You can put them in the fridge to chill. Cooking them in a hot oven on a greased tray is best to keep the shape.
The left over stock will make an amazing sauce if left to reduce by half, you can create a demi glace or add a beurre manie to save time- but make sure the flour proteins are cooked out. or add more vinegar and sugar for a sharper piquant sauce.
I sometimes make them for a dinner party too and I suggest serving a larger patty on some mashed winter root vegetables with a demi glace. garnished with a sprig of thyme.
A wine to go with this needs plenty of punch, I first thought of a Gran Reserva Rioja, to remind me of that first burger but I saw a bottle of Hochar Pere et Fils at North Coast Wines in Bude. Hochar is the second wine from Chateau Musar, that great Lebanese wine I blogged about here.
The Hochar still has that great idiosyncratic flavour of sun drenched mountain valleys. There is a hint of raisin, a subtle resiny wood, but the wine is noticeably lighter in colour than it’s older brother, and much less oaked. Still it is a great wine at an affordable price of about £12. I expect that this wine is a good indicator of the quality of Ch. Musar for the year, having previously and recently tasted the 2003, and noticed the similarity.