Amazing Oxtail Stew – Rich, Satisfying and Surprisingly Low Calorie

I love oxtail. It is such a tasty cut of beef. For me it is the perfect meat for a stew. It needs to be slow cooked but it is worth the wait.

This oxtail stew tastes lovely and dirty; I mean, what do you expect from such a fatty cut of meat that you cook on the bone for a long time? What you don’t expect is that this is actually low calorie. What???? You’re kidding me!!! A rich, satisfying, dirty bowl of oxtail stew; low calorie? No way! IT’S TRUE. The way I cooked it there was only 450 calories per portion. UNBELIEVABLE­čś▒

You have to try this stew. If you like beef you will not be disappointed.

I used a slow cooker but you could just cook on a hob, in the oven or in a pressure cooker. See the notes at the end for suggestions about how to use these different methods.


1.2kg oxtail (on the bone)
1 tablespoon oil (I used rapeseed / canola oil)
2 large carrots
2 onions
150g mushrooms (use your favourites)
2 thick rashers smoked back bacon
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
1 litre beef stock (I used four oxo cubes and 1 litre boiling water)
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons flour
2 heaped teaspoons of ready made English mustard
Ground black pepper to taste


The key to any great stew is to make sure you get depth of flavour. This starts with the beautiful oxtail. Rub the pieces of oxtail with the oil and roast at about 180 degC for 20 to 30 minutes until lovely and browned.

Meanwhile prepare the veg. Peel and roughly chop the carrots and onions. Roughly chop the mushroom. Throw the veg in the slow cooker with the bay leaves.

Now for the next layer of flavour. The smoked bacon adds an unbelievable smoky depth to the final stew. Chop the bacon and chuck it in with the veg. Then pour in the Worcestershire sauce, stock and salt. Mix the whole lot together.

Now add in the oxtail and any roasting juices (yet more flavour). Slow cook for a long time. I cooked for about seven hours. About half and half at high and low temperatures.

When cooked the meat will just fall off the bone when gently prodded. At this stage there will be quite a deep layer of fat on top of the stew. It is now that the serious calorie reduction takes place. Remove the meat from the stew. 

When cool enough to handle remove the meat from the bone. Break the meat up to your liking. You should discard any large pieces of fat. You should be left with just meat. 

My internet research suggests that the meat yielded from cooked oxtail contains about 200 calories per 100g. My 1.2kg of oxtail yielded a little over 400g. So 800 calories which became about 1800 calories with the rest of my ingredients. As this recipe makes four generous portions that makes just 450 calories per portion….AMAZING­čĹŹ

Now you need to remove the lake of fat from the top of the stew. Personally I use a spoon to remove it initially. Be careful to not spoon out the stock. Spoon the fat out into a bowl. Once you start spooning out a higher proportion of stock than fat then move to the next fat removal stage.

Now this may sound a bit weird but it works an absolute treat. Soak up the fat with kitchen roll. It really works. If there is fat there the kitchen roll soaks up this and does not soak up the stock. You will need several sheets; as soon as a sheet is saturated with fat throw it away and use another until all of the floating fat is gone (at this stage the kitchen roll will start to soak up stock).

Now we have severely reduced the calories you should throw the meat back into stew and stir to mix. Breaking up the meat really makes it feel like you are eating a lot more meat than you actually are as every mouthful has some lovely, flavoursome, slow cooked oxtail in it.

Now for the final layer of flavour. Make a sort of roux with a couple of tablespoons of the removed fat, the flour and the mustard. Put it in a pan and cook gently for a few minutes whilst stirring to ensure it is fully mixed. 

Now sieve in a little of the stew stock, whisking all the time. Once the liquid is fully mixed then add more of the stock, whisking all the time. Continue another couple of times until all of the stock is in the pan. Continue whisking until the mixture comes to the boil and allow it to simmer for a few minutes. Add pepper to taste. You should not need any salt but now is the time to add it if you wish. The stock should be a lovely, thick, rich, tasty sauce now.

Pour it back into the slow cooker and stir everything up. That’s it! An amazing, low calorie oxtail stew that just tastes so rich and satisfying that you will not be able to believe that it is not dirty.

I still have difficulty believing that I can consider eating this on one of my low days.

If you are on a low day enjoy this stunning stew on its own or with cauliflower cous cous. Alternatively, it is great with mashed potato or chips. Or even bread to dip in.

Try this stew. You will not regret it.

Suggestions for modifying this recipe

  • There are a few suggestions discussed above; e.g. Use your favourite mushrooms or accompaniments.
  • Change the type of mustard or even use horseradish sauce.
  • Add different veg and different quantities of veg.
  • Thicken the stock with red split lentils rather than the “roux”. They will need to cook in the stock for about 25 minutes and then be blitzed. Between 100g and 200g depending on how thick you want the stew.

Different Cooking Methods

Now please bear in mind that I have not actually tried using a different cooking method but the following should provide a useful guide.

  • Pressure cooker. Rather than slow cooking cook at high pressure in a pressure cooker for about an hour. Everything else is the same.
  • Oven. Rather than slow cooking cook at about 160 degC in the oven for three or four hours; until the meat falls off the bone when gentle pressure is applied.
  • Hob. Rather than Pressure cooking simmer on the hob at the lowest possible level until the meat falls off the bone when gentle pressure is applied. I guess about three hours. You will need to stir regularly to avoid burning.



Beautiful, super-healthy vegan chilli

I love a beautiful bowl of chilli. It is really tasty and satisfying. However, traditional meat based versions carry too many calories for my low calorie days so I decided to create a new chilli that I can enjoy on those days.

By happy coincidence the resulting beautiful, tasty, super-healthy, low calorie chilli also turned out to be vegan.

Now I am no vegan (check out my other recipes) but I embrace all types of food and I find that really tasty vegan and vegetarian food can help when trying to control calories.

This chilli has lots of things in it that are good for you. It probably has about three and a half of your five pieces of fruit and veg per day in every portion (although don’t quote me on that – I am no nutritionist­čśâ).

This recipe makes enough for eight generous portions that each contain approximately 275 calories.

Simply serve the chilli on its own or with whatever accompaniment you usually have with chilli. Some suggestions are:

  • Boiled or steamed rice.
  • Nachos.
  • Baked potato.
  • Blitz cauliflower and roast for ten minutes to make cauliflower “rice”.
  • A dollop of sour cream.

If you are trying to keep calories low then either eat the chilli on its own or with cauliflower rice (or a small amount of boiled or steamed rice).

2 teaspoons oil (I used rapeseed / canola)
2 large onions
3 medium carrots
2 sticks of celery
Garlic puree (about 3 cloves)
2 tablespoons tomato puree
2 x 400 g tins of chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon hot chilli powder
1 tablespoon mild chilli powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon hot curry powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
500 g dried green lentils (I used green speckled lentils)
1 1/2 litres vegetable stock


Roughly chop the onions and carrots (I like to leave the carrot pieces quite large to give the finished chilli a bit of extra texture) and chop the celery slightly finer.

Heat the oil in a large pan and then fry the onion, carrot and celery over a moderately high heat for five minutes, stirring frequently until the onions are soft and taking on some colour.

Then stir in the garlic and tomato puree and heat through before adding the chopped tomatoes and all of the spices and herbs. I find it easiest to get all of the herbs and spices measured out into a little cup whilst the veg is frying so I can simply throw them all in the pan in in one go. Stir the pan so that the herbs and spices are thoroughly mixed in with the tomatoes and veg.

Add the lentils to the pan and stir to mix.

Add the stock to the pan, stir to mix and bring to the boil. Now simply simmer gently for a couple of hours, stirring every now and then.

The long slow cooking really lets the flavour mature. If the chilli gets a bit too dry (or if all the liquid is absorbed before the lentils are cooked) then add a little more water. Add salt to taste.

Once cooked I turn off the heat and just leave the pan sitting there for several hours (I actually left it for about 11 hours overnight). This allows the chilli to cool down but, more importantly, it lets the flavour mature further, especially the lovely smokiness from the paprika. However, if you are worried about leaving food out for so long you can simply refrigerate or freeze as soon as the chilli is cool.

That’s it!” Simple! Now you have a beautiful, super-healthy, vegan, low calorie bowl of chilli. Yum­čśâ

You can eat straight away but I think chilli is like all stews and the flavour gets better if you can bear to leave it to mature for a day.

This chilli freezes well. Just portion it out before freezing and then defrost and heat up in a microwave when you want to eat a portion.

Suggestions for modifying this recipe

  • Change the level of heat by varying the amount of spices, particularly the chilli powders.
  • Use your favourite types of chilli (e.g. Chipotle)
  • Try adding your favourite beans to the chilli. If dried just make sure they are rehydrated first.