In Salone (krio for Sierra Leone) and Liberia, when you refer to gravy, you are referring to a sweet, slightly smoky, slowly cooked stew of onions and tomatoes. It doesn’t sound like much but the amount of love that goes into making a stew is the same amount that goes into making a gravy for a roast. Funnily enough this stew is the kind of roast dinner I had on a Sunday growing up, either with chicken, beef or smoked trotters, but the best was always with oxtail for me with some jollof rice on the side!
Trying to think of some cham cham (meaning small bites or to chew in Krio) for my next supper club I came up with this wonderful dish to start any dinner party off the right way, accompanied my Mama’s gravy.
The prep. part
250g cassava, peeled and roughly chopped into chunks
1 litre of vegetable oil
The croquette fiiling
1 bay leaf
1 large carrot, roughly chopped
2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
1 med onion, roughly chopped
70ml ruby port
1 kallo beef stock cube
2 eggs, beaten
40ml vegetable oil
200g tinned chopped tomatoes
½ tsp tomato paste
Pinch of mixed herbs
A few sprigs of thyme
1 tsp dark soy
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
The assembling part
- Put a deep frying pan onto a medium heat and once the pan is hot, seal the oxtail.
- Once all are sealed, add all of the croquette filling ingredients to the pan and cook for 2 hours on a low heat.
- Meanwhile bring a pan of water to the boil and add the cassava. Cook for 30 minutes and then mash. Set aside to cool.
- Now to the gravy – put a pan onto heat and add the vegetable oil.
- Add the onions to the pan and sauté until they turn translucent.
- Now add all the remaining ingredients for the gravy and allow to simmer on a low heat for 40 minutes and reduce. As it reduces, the flavour will intensify and in turn, turn darker in colour.
- A few hours later and your home should be filled with the gorgeous smell of the oxtail.
- Remove from the liquid and set the oxtail aside to cool and then remove the meat from the bone. (Freeze the liquid as you can use it to make a stew or a gravy).
- Mix the cassava and oxtail together and mould into logs, then dip in the beaten egg and roll in breadcrumbs.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a pan and deep fry the croquettes for about 3 minutes each and then drain on some kitchen towel.
- Plate up the croquettes, spoon over some gravy and serve.