Yesterday I posted my first recipe using the wonderful goodies in my ZZ2 Mouthwatering Box. My surprise box contained garlic, onions, avo and pretty much every kind of tomato I can think of. In my first recipe I featured garlic and tomato as equal co-stars (get the recipe here). But this next episode has space for only one superstar diva – and that’s the tomato.
The possibilities with tomatoes are just endless. Use it as the base for a wonderfully comforting dish of posh beans on toast. Use it to make warming soups, like my smokey tomato version. Add mozzarella and basil to it to make a caprese of sorts, then tumble it on a yeast dough base for the ultimate healthy take on a pizza. And then of course there is one of my all time faves – the classic old-fashioned South African tomato bredie.
At its most rudimentary, tomato bredie is equal weights of lamb rib and tomato plus salt, pepper, sugar and potatoes. Other recipes add some spices – everything from cardamom, to cloves, to ginger. I didn’t have any lamb rib in the fridge, but I did have oxtail. So I swapped the lamb for the oxtail and I adapted my basic tomato bredie recipe to give it more of an Italian flavour profile. I cooked it low and slow (as one has to with oxtail) and the tomatoes turned into a heady sweet gravy with just a hint of acid to balance it – the perfect foil for the incredible richness of the oxtail. I swapped the potato element in a traditional tomato bredie for gnocchi. Because really, what is gnocchi other than fancy potato with a bit of flour? So here it is, oxtail tomato bredie with Italian flair.
Important: You can win a Mouthwatering Box from ZZ2 as well as a R1 000 Checkers voucher! All you need to do, is go onto the ZZ2 Facebook page and tell them what YOU would make with two or more of the following ingredients: sundried and fresh tomatoes, garlic, onion, avo. R1 000 buys a lot of oxtail folks. Just saying.
All you need is…
For the bredie
1kg ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped (see tips, tricks & trivia below)
3 tbs sunflower oil
1 extra large white or brown onion, finely chopped
3 fat cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 tbs tomato paste
3 tbs flour
1 tbs sugar
2 bay leaves
1 sprig rosemary
2 sprigs oregano
½ red chilli, deseeded and chopped
2 tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground coarse black pepper
¼ cup water
For the gnocchi
½kg floury potatoes (waxy does NOT work)
175g plain cake flour
salt and pepper to taste
Brown the oxtail in the oil. You want it gorgeous and dark brown on all sides, so it takes a while, but take care not to burn it. Remove the oxtail and add the onion to the pot. Turn the heat lower and cook the onion for 5 minutes. Stir it so that the onion lifts all those beautiful caramelized brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Once the onions are soft, add the garlic and tomato paste and fry for a further two minutes. Add the meat back to the pan. Sprinkle over the flour, stir through well and cook for a further minute. Now add the tomatoes, sugar, chilli, salt, pepper and herbs to the pan. Pour over the water, cover the pan and turn your heat down to its lowest setting possible. (If your heat is low enough, you should not need more water as the tomatoes contain plenty of liquid, but keep an eye on it.) Cook until the meat is fall-off-the-bone soft. This will take about 3-4 hours. Don’t rush it – cutting the time by shoving this in a pressure cooker simply will not give you the same results. Rather open a bottle of good wine and reflect on how fabulous you are.
You can go the shop-bought gnocchi route. If you can find fresh gnocchi, the kind they have to keep in the fridge, by all means go for it. I find the gnocchi that does not need refrigeration and sits on supermarket shelves next to the dried pasta has a weird chemical undertone. It’s actually rather appalling. Make your own, it’s so easy.
Simply peel and boil the potatoes in plenty of salted water until cooked through. Drain and dry the potatoes thoroughly. Mash the potatoes until smooth. Mix in the flour, egg as well as salt and pepper to taste. Roll into a long thin sausage (1cm diameter) then cut blocks of 2.5cm. Press in the middle of each gnocchi with your little finger so that the gnocchi curls. Boil a few at a time in salted water for 3-5 minutes. They are ready when they drift to the top. Remove and keep warm in a well buttered bowl until serving. If all this sounds like far too much effort, try serving this tomato bredie with samp. That’s the way we always ate oxtail on the farm and I think it will work brilliantly with this.