Oxtail and Ale pie

22_OxtailandAlePieToo often neglected, this piece of meat is bursting with flavour

It’s time! Time for roaring hearths, soups and stews, delicious comfort food that warms you from the inside out. It’s time for gutsy flavours, woolly jumpers, crisp days, and homely dinners.

Oxtail is a cut that seems to be used less and less these days but there is little else on the butcher’s block that has as much flavour as this piece of the animal. It is the perfect antidote to dark damp November nights when the body craves nourishing with robust rich flavours.

Imen McDonnell of farmette.ie fame has a cookbook coming out in spring. It’s full of delicious recipes that she cooks in her family home on their farm in Dunmoylan, Co Limerick.

Imen was working in broadcast production in Minneapolis, New York and Los Angeles before meeting and falling in love with an Irish farmer who was on holiday in the States. She has been married to Richard and living in Ireland for 10 years now with their gorgeous son, Geoffrey.

Having ditched the high heels and city life for wellies and green fields, she set to learning about Irish cooking straight away as it was such a big part of life on the farm. She started to document her life and the food she was cooking in her beautifully written blog farmette.ie. Imen has developed a huge following from her open, honest, everyday accounts of how farm life unfolds at her kitchen table and her recipes are written from the beautifully fresh perspective of a foreign eye that’s gotten down and dirty with Ireland.

Imen kindly allowed me a sneak peek at her soon to be published book and shared with us a perfect winter recipe.

You may need to pre-order oxtail from your butcher.

Oxtail & Ale Pie 

By cooking the oxtail with top quality dark Irish ale at a low temperature over four hours, the end result is meat that is rich and extremely tender. This kind of cooking is about taking a modest cut of meat and releasing the delicious and divine flavours that, sadly, have almost been forgotten.

Puff pastry
2 tbsp oil
60g butter
3.5lbs oxtail, cut into pieces by butcher
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Flour, for dusting
8 carrots, peeled
1 bunch celery
6 shallots, roughly chopped
8 cloves garlic, sliced
4 fresh bay leaves
6 cloves
1 litre good-quality beef stock
240 ml Irish Ale
1 free-range egg yolk
Fresh thyme sprigs to garnish


Preheat the oven to 160°C.

Place 1 tbsp oil and the butter in a large, cast iron casserole dish over high heat. Dust the oxtail with salt and pepper seasoned flour, place in casserole dish and brown for roughly five minutes. Remove browned oxtail and set aside.

Turn down the heat to medium low before adding the carrot, celery, shallot and remaining oil. Leave to sweat slowly until softened, about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic, bay leaves, cloves, beef stock and ale. Season to taste, and cover with a lid. Place in the oven and slowly roast for 2½ to 3 hours, until the oxtail is caramelised and tender.

Roll out the pastry on a floured surface until 3cm thick.

Remove the contents of the casserole dish to an oven proof dish that fits the contents snugly, drape pastry over the oxtail mixture, covering the dish.

Beat the egg yolk, adding a drop of milk to dilute if necessary, then lightly brush the pastry with the egg mixture. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden and crisp. Garnish with sprigs of fresh thyme.