YOU don't often see oxtail on the butcher's block - it is an unfashionable meat.

It's certainly not a meat celebrity chefs can cook up in a few minutes.

It is, however, a rich, tasty meat and makes a hearty winter casserole, providing you give it enough time to cook. Actually, this is the perfect meat for the slow cooker or the lower oven of an Aga, as the slower you cook it, the better.

As oxtail is rather fatty, it's advisable to cook this dish the day before, so surplus fat can be scooped off when it is cold. One oxtail is normally enough for two portions.

To feed two, you will need: One oxtail, chopped into pieces One large onion - peeled and chopped Three large carrots - peeled and chopped One head of celery - chopped One small turnip or swede - peeled or chopped (optional) One clove garlic - chopped (optional) A little oil to fry oxtail Two bay leaves Small bunch parsley - chopped Flour to coat oxtail Salt and freshly-ground black peppercorns to season Method: Soak the oxtail in cold water for about ten minutes Remove oxtail from the water, dry with kitchen paper and liberally sprinkle with flour In a large heavy-bottomed casserole, heat enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan, adding the oxtail once the oil has reached full heat Turn oxtail until it begins to brown on all sides, lower the heat and add the vegetables and bay leaves, garlic if using, but not the parsley Once the vegetables begin to soften, add about a half-pint (300ml) of hot water and, having stirred it all well, bring slowly to the boil Skim off any scum that might have gathered on the top Cover the pan, lower the heat and either let it simmer away on a back-burner for about four hours, or place in slow cooker for the same time. If you are using a conventional oven, I'd suggest you keep the temperature at about 150C/300F or gas mark 3 When the meat begins to fall away easily from the bone, taste, adjust seasoning, add a little more water if needed, also the chopped parsley This dish is best served with a generous helping of mashed potato to soak up the delicious meaty juices.

Note: tomato paste can be added too if you want to enhance flavour further.