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Oxtail Terrine

6 generous starters

This is really a cross between a terrine and jellied meat like jambon persillé or daube glacé. Surprisingly bright and light given the featured ingredient.

Christmas Sausage- 2 lb oxtails

- some pieces of calf’s foot (optional)

- an onion, halved but unpeeled

- some celery tops

- 1 teaspoon dried thyme

- 2 bay leaves

- 3-4 stalks parsley

- ½ teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet

- about 10 whole peppercorns

- Worcestershire and hot sauce to taste

- 1 bottle (12 oz) Guinness or porter

- 4 trimmed celery stalk cut into 3-4 inch logs

- 2 trimmed leeks

- about 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

- ½ teaspoon mixed spice (see notes)

- ½ heaped teaspoon dry mustard

- salt and pepper to taste

- 1 envelope of gelatin (unnecessary if you use the foot)


  1. Put the oxtails and foot bones in a pot, just cover them with water, bring the water to a boil and skim off the scum.
  2. Add the onion, celery tops, thyme, bay, parsley, Kitchen Bouquet, peppercorns, Worcestershire, hot sauce and ½ cup of the Guinness to the pot.
  3. Return to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 2 ½ hours.
  4. Add the celery logs and leeks to the pot and continue simmering for another half hour or so.
  5. Once the meat pulls easily from the bone and the celery and leeks are just tender, remove them and the oxtails from the pot.
  6. Pull the meat from the bones keeping each chunk as intact as possible and slice the leeks.
  7. Strain the stock, discard the solids, and boil it ruthlessly until you have no more than 2 cups.
  8. Set a skillet on medium heat, roll the mustard seeds around on it for a moment and add the remaining cup of Guinness. Reduce it by half, then add ½ cup of the reduced stock along with the mixed spice, dry mustard and salt and pepper to taste.
  9. If you did not use the calf’s foot, melt the gelatin in a little water and add it to the Guinness mixture.
  10. Whisk the mixture to combine everything and remove it from the heat.
  11. Arrange the meat, celery and leeks in a terrine or bowl just big enough to hold them, press the mixture gently together, then pour in just enough of the Guinness mixture to lap the top of the filing.
  12. Line with plastic wrap, cover and refrigerate overnight before serving.


- The calf’s foot adds richness and flavor along with natural gelatin but is not necessary so if you are squeamish use the gelatin packet instead of avoiding the dish. You could also use short ribs instead of oxtail, but the oxtail produces its own gelatin and less fat so makes a lighter dish.

- “Mixed spice” is not ordinarily marketed as such in the United States. It is simply a combination of four spices in varying proportion packaged by various British producers. The spices may include allspice, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, mace and nutmeg. Martha Stewart sells “quatre épices”, the (obviously) French variant, which makes a workaday alternative of allspice, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. According to Davidson, however, quatre épices usually also includes either black or cayenne pepper.

- Pickled walnuts are terrific with the oxtail. If you cannot get them cornichons are fine.

- If your meat is unusually fatty the excess will rise under refrigeration and you can peel it off the top of the finished terrine in the morning.

- If you like your celery and leek, or either of them, slightly crunchy, then add them or it to the pot a little later.