We purchased this “tarte aux pruneaux” (prune tart) from a patisserie in Brantôme. I had never seen anything like it before and was interested to discover what it would taste like. It was delightful and neither as sweet nor as tart as I expected it could be … it was just right.
A look at my recipe book revealed that prunes grown in Agen, in the south west, are world famous. Originally brought in by Syrian crusaders, there are now 2.9 million plum trees grown over 130 square kilometres. Only California produces more than this area’s annual yield of 50 million kilograms! I popped out to get some prunes so that I could use them to create something delicious.
As we’d already tasted a dessert, I decided to go for something savoury. Another glance at Culinaria France (www.ullmann-publishing.com) revealed that nearby Limousin is known for its “viande” (meat); its “boeuf” (beef) and “veau” (veal) to be precise.
Luckily the local “boucherie” had just what I was looking for: “viande bovine limousine“… now could I make something that would live up to this luxurious name?
I chose “queue” (oxtail) because I thought, with the addition of prunes (and some “vin rouge” of course) I could rustle up a rich an tasteful dish.
- 1kg oxtail (or any stewing meat)
- 60g (4Tbs) flour
- 2Tbs olive oil
- 2Tbs butter
- 4 shallots/ two onions (chopped)
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 3 large carrots (sliced)
- 1 large leek (sliced)
- 500ml red wine
- 500ml chicken stock
- 1 bouquet garni (or a few sprigs of fresh thyme & 2 bay leaves)
- 250g (sticky) prunes
- (I added a optional ingredient of 250g edible forest mushrooms pickled in brine)
1 POT METHOD:
- Coat the oxtail pieces with flour. Shake off the excess flour and reserve it for use later. Brown the oxtail in the olive oil for a couple of minutes. (This can be done in batches if necessary). Remove and set aside.
- Add the butter to the pot and brown the shallots, garlic, carrots and leeks. Remove and set aside in a separate bowl. Add the reserved flour to the vegetables and stir through. Keep this aside until the last 30 minutes of cooking.
- Return the oxtail to the pot and add the wine, stock and bouquet garni. Cover with a lid and simmer for 2.5 to 3 hours until the meat is tender.
- Add the vegetables, prunes and drained mushrooms (optional) to the pot and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.
*It may be necessary to add more liquid (ie stock or red wine) during the 3hr cooking process if your pot allows a lot of steam to escape and the liquid in your pot reduces by more than half.
*It may be necessary to simmer uncovered for the additional 30 minutes at the end if there is a lot of liquid and the sauce needs to be thickened.
Serve with rice, mash (or boiled potatoes if you don’t have a potato masher 🙃)