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Pap squares with oxtail

We’re giving the good old pap and oxtail a modern upgrade for Sunday lunch this week. Are you keen to give it a try? The stiff pap squares add a whole new dimension of texture.

SERVES 6 // COOKING TIME 3 hours, 40 min

For the pap squares
3 cups water
2 cups maize meal
2 tbsp butter
Vegetable oil, to fry
For the oxtail
1 kg oxtail
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, peeled and chopped
3 carrots, grated
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
400 g tin chopped tomatoes
2 cups beef stock
1 cup red wine
4 bay leaves
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley, to serve

For the pap squares
1. Bring the water to a rapid boil. Add 1 cup maize meal and cover. Reduce heat to medium-low and leave the pap for 8–10 minutes, without stirring.
2. Remove the lid and, using a wooden spoon or sturdy whisk, stir vigorously for 1 minute to mix and remove any lumps.
3. Slowly add 1 cup maize meal, while stirring. Reduce heat to low, cover pot and let pap steam for 10–15 minutes. Add butter and salt, and stir again.
4. Transfer pap to a roasting tin lined with cling film, pressing it down evenly. Cool for 1 hour.
5. Remove the pap from the tin and cut into 8 cm squares, about 2 cm thick.
6. Heat enough oil in a pan to shallow-fry the pap squares. Fry them, flipping once, until golden and crispy. Place on a paper towel to drain off any excess oil.
For the oxtail
1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
2. Season oxtail generously on both sides with salt and pepper.
3. Heat 1 tbsp oil over high heat in a deep cast-iron or ovenproof pot. Brown oxtail all over, then remove it from the pot.
4. Place onion in the same pot. Fry in the leftover meat fat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, except parsley, and cook for 2 minutes.
5. Return the oxtail and all its resting juices to the pot. Cover the pot and cook in the oven for 3 hours. Check after 2 hours and add a little more water if needed. Once the sauce is reduced and thickened, adjust the seasoning.
6. Serve with fried pap squares and chopped parsley.

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