Oxtail macaroni and cheese

by mimithorisson

This nostalgic ‘plat de famille‘ (family dish) from Lyon is certainly one of the most luxurious macaroni and cheese around. The term ‘bon-vivant’ must have been linked with Lyonnais style cooking, for every dish from this region always has a certain finishing touch unlike no others. The gruyère cheese and Beaujolais wine make this macaroni gratin extra rich in flavours and in texture. The oxtail is braised in red wine for three hours creating a succulent and hearty stew, then layered with macaroni and the richest gruyère béchamel sauce ever.

This dish is pure decadence. The simplicity of a ‘mac & cheese’ turned into a Lyonnais feast is what I love about the alchemy of cooking – you can turn anything into something!

Ingredients: (serves 4)

250 g macaroni pasta
1 kg oxtail (cut in chunks)
1 litre of Beaujolais wine
1 onion (chopped)
4 garlic gloves (minced)
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs of thyme
120 g grated gruyère cheese
30 g butter
1/2 tbsp coarse salt
Pepper for seasoning

For the béchamel sauce
60 g butter
30 g plain flour
300 ml milk
150 ml crème fraîche
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Salt and pepper to season

In a large cooking pot, brown the meat with 30 g of butter. Add the thyme, bay leaf, chopped onion and garlic. Deglaze with one liter of Beaujolais wine and cook on the low heat for 3 hours until beef is tender. Remove meat from bone, chop roughly if necessary, add to the sauce and cook for a further 15 minutes on a medium heat. The sauce should be glossy and thick.

Cook macaroni pasta until al dente – rinse with cold water and drain. Set aside.

Prepare the béchamel sauce: In a saucepan on a medium heat, melt butter and add flour. Whisk until smooth and gradually add milk whisking away. Season with salt and pepper and nutmeg and stir until sauce thickens to a desired consistency – this will take approx. 8-10 minutes. Add 50 g or gruyère cheese and mix well until cheese has melted. Set aside.

Preheat oven 210 °C. Line a baking dish with butter and place one layer of beef and sauce, one layer of macaroni, one layer of béchamel sauce. Repeat procedure and finish with a layer of béchamel sauce. Sprinkle with the rest the gruyère cheese. Bake for 20 minutes until golden on top. Serve immediately.

Tip: You can save some meat sauce and serve as a gravy on the side. It’s delicious!