A couple of posts ago I touched on my lunch time session with my friends, it was my birthday and we arranged to gather at a friend's home in Capetown where Janet and I would entertain twenty of them to a Sunday lunch. I love entertaining and cooking and so does Janet after she gets her mind around it, we had been talking about it for a couple of weeks before and so we had everything pretty well planned;The starters were fresh oysters, marinated mussels - we had steamed the mussels on the Friday and marinated them then so that they would be really good by Sunday - with cheese and herb bread, and then Janet roasted a pan of chicken drumsticks for the non seafood eaters, of which there were only a couple but previous experience has taught us to make plenty because after our friends have gorged on mussels and oysters they still want to tuck into the chicken!
While this was going on I carried on with the oxtail pot which I had started at 0700, first I browned 8kg of oxtail in a little cooking oil in three batches, until it was all just nicely browned and then I set it aside.
Next, and in the same oil I fried up a kilo of bacon and then a mix of chopped onions, green peppers, celery and fresh garlic until all the vegetables were nicely translucent. I also added two large potatoes which were chopped quite small, to help thicken the gravy.
Whilst the meat was out of the pot I sprinkled it with two packets of cream of onion soup powder, a large sprinkle of Aromat - my favourite meat spice, and some mixed herbs. This was then all put back into the pot and given a good stir around so that all of the onions and peppers covered the meat.
I then poured in a full Castle lager and a cup full of dry red wine and left the whole lot to simmer on a low heat for about two hours.
Janet and Linda were busying themselves with preparations and both were convinced that the pot would never be ready on time, "Oh ye of little faith!" I said as I stirred the meat again, by then a nice gravy was starting to appear and I added salt and pepper to taste and left it to simmer for another two hours.
While I was busy I caused 12 large potatoes and a large butternut to be peeled and chopped - I was far too involved with the pot to do it myself!By this stage the meat was starting to feel soft and starting to separate a bit from the bone, I added the potatoes, butternut and fresh green beans and settled them into the gravy, about another hour to slowly simmer just to let the vegetables cook as my guests were starting to arrive.
Happily the timing was perfect, the pot got a good thumbs up from all of my guests, we served it on rice about a half an hour after the starters were finished, altogether six hours preparation and cooking time.
We ended off with cheese and biscuits, home made Belgian chocolates, mixed nuts and raisins and a good whisky liqueur and I must admit that I had the most wonderful day. My friend Dick read a very amusing poem that he had written in my honour and I will follow up with it in my next post. By 1830 all of my friends had left and all that remained was to clear up and relax for a bit, certainly the best birthday celebration that I can remember.