Grilled flank, boiled brisket and aillade, with oxtail parmentier

Serves 10

Preparation time less than 30 mins

Cooking time over 2 hours

For the Boiled Brisket:
3kg/6½lb brisket
1 pig’s trotter
beef bones
fistful peppercorns
fistful coriander seeds
head of garlic
2 shallots
quarter fistful of cloves
½ lemon
5litres/8¾pt water
stick of celery

For the Aillade:
500g/1lb2oz walnuts
walnut oil
10 cloves garlic
hot stock

For the Oxtail Parmentier:
2kg/4lb6oz oxtail
1kg/2lb3oz waxy potatoes
6 ‘banana’ shallots, finely chopped
8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
beef fat
250ml/8fl oz beef stock
250ml/8fl oz red wine
walnut oil
pimenton picante, if available

For the Grilled Flank:
500g/1lb2oz beef flank per person
1. For the boiled brisket: put everything into the cold water and bring to an unfierce boil. Skim relentlessly for about 20 minutes – do not use a slotted spoon, use a large ordinary spoon or one with an exceptionally fine sieve (you can get these in Chinese stores). Do not, equally, improvise and put in more celery (it is a bully), or aberrational root veg such as parsnips or carrots which are sweeteners, and they also cloud the broth.
2. Let it cook for three to four hours. Never let the water get so hot that it bubbles – that is the route to toughening the meat. The surface of the water which is turning into broth should be only seldom broken by erruptions from below. If you want a first course, serve the stock as a soup with egg and parmesan beaten into it. If you don’t, remember to keep the stock.
3. For the aillade: blanch the garlic for about a minute. Pour hot water over the walnuts and get as much skin off as you can.
4. Put the garlic and nuts in food processor and turn into a crumbly paste.
5. Incorporate the walnut oil to make a smooth emulsion with the consistency of thick cream. Add a very little stock to bring it to the consistency of double cream. Salt it sparingly.
6. For the oxtail parmentier: skin and boil the potatoes. Mash them by hand. Do not whiz them in a food processor: such a procedure breaks down the glutens and turns them into glue. After mashing them put them through a fine sieve. The resultant pulp doesn t have to be kept hot. Pour over enough milk to cover the potatoes.
7. Sweat the finely chopped shallots, garlic, celery in beef fat till they re soft but not coloured – 30 or 40 minutes. Drain off the fat.
8. Brown the oxtails in the hot fat. Drain off the fat. Put in a pan with the shallots, garlic, seasonings – if you can t get pimenton piccante do not use paprika, just omit it.
9. Cover with stock and wine. Bring to boil, then simmer for about 2 hours without a lid. Towards the end the sauce will get jammy – be careful here and dilute it with a little boiling stock from the brisket if it s getting too thick.
10. When they re cooked take the oxtail meat off the bone. Reduce the sauce but keep it this side of ointnment.
11. Drain the milk off the potatoes. Add walnut oil to the potato. Put a layer of potato, 2cm/1in deep, at the bottom of a deep high-sided vessel. Add layers of oxtail taken off the bone, the onions/garlic/celery cooked with the oxtails, another layer of potato – and so on.
12. Put in a moderately hot oven (180C/350F/Gas 4)for about 30 minutes.
13. Finish with fine breadcrumbs and gratinate under the grill.
14. For the grilled flank: trim the meat. Do not salt till immediately before cooking. 4-5 minutes under a very hot grill is sufficient. Turn the meat once.

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