Oxtail Casserole with Suet Dumplings, by Zena Leech-Calton, Food Blogger

The house will smell divine!

In memory of my mum ‘Irene Leech’ also known as ‘Reny Lee’, her stage name in the days of New Faces.

As a chef working in London there was a revival of all things classic and British. My mum was going through Chemo and I explained how I’d made this luscious rich dish of Oxtails. She was hooked, a favourite of her childhood and she wanted me to make it that weekend – of course I obliged and it because a family favourite of weekends back home.

We wanted to move closer to home and renovated a house in Norwich, unfortunately my mum didn’t make the completion, but the first meal I cooked was this Oxtail dish in memory of her – and it’s the first dish I cooked when I moved in to Lodge Farm,  where I run my cookery school – happy memories and good food.

Oxtail Casserole (5 – 6)

1 Oxtail /approx 3lb/1-1/2k plus – cut in to pieces/segments.

2 tablespoon plain flour

2 tablespoons olive or sunflower oil

2 onions – chopped

3 cloves garlic – chopped

2 large carrots – peeled and chunky sliced

2 sticks celery – chopped

1 leeks (optional) – sliced

1/2 swede (optional) – chunky diced

2 teaspoons ground paprika

1 teaspoons dried thyme or a sprig of fresh

2 bay leaves (optional)

2 pints water or stock

2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon dark soya sauce

3 tablespoons tomato puree


· Pre-heat the oven gas 4 / 180c.

· Trim of any excess fat from the oxtail pieces.

· Toss the oxtails in the flour, shaking of any excess.

· Heat the oil in a large frying pan or saucepan.

· Seal the oxtails, cooking until they are brown on all sides. (approx. 3 – 4 minutes)

· Remove the oxtails and set aside, in the same pan add all the diced vegetables and garlic along with the spices and herbs, cooking for several minutes to soften.

· Place the oxtails back in the pan and cover with the stock or water along with the worcestershie and soya sauce.

· Bring to the simmer and cover with a lid.

· Place in the oven, middle shelf and cook for 5 hours.

· Remove, skim of any excess fat, add a little water if the casserole lacks liquid and then stir in the puree and season to taste.

· If adding dumplings, turn the oven up to gas 7 / 220*c, place on top of the casserole and cook uncovered in the oven for the last 20 – 25 minutes until the dumplings are golden and the oxtails are bubbling.


(basically 1/3 suet to 2/3 plain flour –mix with water, season and roll in to balls)

60 g beef suet

180 g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder


100 – 120 ml cold water

· Fork in enough of the water to form a soft dough, so it can be rolled with damp hands in to golf sized balls.

· Cook on top of the casserole to absorb some of the flavour from underneath rendering them soft on the bottom and crisp on the top but they can also be steamed or boiled.

Dumpling Variations

Add 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped parsley for herb dumplings

1 teaspoon dried Colman’s mustard powder for mustard ones or

1-2 teaspoons creamed horseradish for horseradish dumplings.

Casserole Variations

Use any variety of vegetables in this dish try parsnips, potatoes, celeriac, turnips or whole shallots.

Oxtail Casserole is a complete meal in it’s self but even lovlier served with (Colmans) mustard mash and a few steamed greens.