National flavours

A dish fit for a saint – or two

March sees two saints’ days in the calendar – St David’s Day on 1 March, and St Patrick’s Day on 17 March – and, in celebration of all things Welsh and Irish, our two recipes are themed around two of the nations’ most famous foodstuffs.

Guinness is one of Ireland’s biggest exports – and it works fantastically with oxtail in Donald Russell’s rich and hearty recipe. The leek is one of the national emblems of Wales, and is paired perfectly with a smoky, creamy cheese sauce in Riverford Organics’ pithivier recipe.

Oxtail with Guinness

Serves 4

Oxtail with Guinness


  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2kg oxtail
  • 75g seasoned flour
  • 4 celery stalks, cut into
    1” chunks
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, thickly sliced
  • 440ml Guinness
  • 2 x 375g cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • Fine sea salt and freshly milled black pepper


On the hob, heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a large, heavy, flameproof casserole dish. Toss the oxtail pieces in the seasoned flour and fry until golden – it’s best to do this in batches. Remove and place to the side.

Heat the remaining oil in the same casserole dish and add the celery, onions and carrots. Cook until they begin to soften slightly. Pour on the Guinness and allow to bubble through, scraping the base of the pan to deglaze.

Pop the oxtail pieces back in the dish, add the tomatoes, bay leaves and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Make sure all the meat is covered with the liquid, topping up with a little water if necessary.

Bring to a gentle simmer on the hob and cook slowly for 3 to 3½ hours, or until the meat comes away from the bones. Alternatively, cook for the same time in a preheated oven at 140C / 275C / Gas 1.

Serve with colcannon (mashed potatoes with kale or cabbage), or soda bread – and a glass of Guinness on the side, of course.

Member savings

Enjoy savings on oxtail with Donald Russell – buy now

Virgin Wines recommends the Ariki Reserva Cachapoal Cabernet Sauvignon Syrah 2011 – big and bold, it works a treat with the richness of the oxtail and Guinness. This wine is also available in the Virgin Wines Can’t Go Wrong Red Case – AA members save over £50.

Leek and smoked cheese pithivier

Serves 4–6

Pithivier is a circular puff pastry pie with a curved pattern cut into it. You could add some sliced mushrooms to the leek mixture.


  • Knob of butter
  • 1kg leeks, finely shredded
  • 100g cream cheese
  • 80g smoked cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives
  • 2 sheets ready rolled all-butter puff pastry (you’ll need about 600g if making your own or rolling out a block – roll to about ½-¾cm thick)
  • 1 egg yolk, mixed with a splash of milk
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper
Leek and cheese pithivier

Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the leeks and cook gently for about
10 minutes until soft.

Add the cream cheese and stir until melted. Season well, turn off the heat, and stir in the cheddar and chives. Leave to cool completely.

Roll out one piece of the pastry on a lightly floured work surface, and use a dinner plate as a template to cut around to make a circle. Spread over the leek mixture, leaving a gap of 5cm all the way around the pastry circle.

Roll out the other half of the pastry and lay it over the top. Press the edges down to seal,  and trim them. Brush the surface of the pie with the egg mixture. Using a sharp knife, score curved lines on top of the pie and the edges.

Bake at 180C for about 30 minutes, or until the top is golden-brown and the pastry cooked through. Serve warm.

Member savings

A fresh white wine works wonders with the pithivier. Virgin Wines recommends the 16 Little Black Pigs Pinot Grigio 2011 – it’s got a bit more depth to it than a standard Pinot Grigio, making it stand up to the strong flavours of the leeks and cheese nicely. This wine is also available in the Virgin Wines Can’t Go Wrong White Case – AA members save over £50.

Place a regular order with Riverford Organics and receive a free Riverford Farm cookbook, worth £16.99.

Full details

(24 October 2013)