This is slow-cooked food at its best – you'll need to prepare this at least three hours ahead. But it's worth it: the oxtail becomes meltingly tender, warm and satisfying.
1 tbsp Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
5 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 yellow onions, peeled and finely chopped
1 dried chilli
5 fresh bay leaves
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
100ml/31/2fl oz sherry vinegar
3 jars of good-quality tomatoes
500ml/17fl oz of water
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 whole cloves
Using a sharp knife, trim the oxtail of most of its fat. Place a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the olive oil. When warm, add the carrots, onion, chilli, bay leaves and garlic. Immediately turn the heat to very low and sweat for 20 minutes, stirring every now and then.
In a separate pan, brown the oxtail well on both sides; this should take about four minutes per side. Remove the oxtail from the pan and deglaze with the vinegar, removing the bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the oxtail to the veg along with the sherry vinegar. Add the tomatoes and water, a pinch of salt and a little freshly ground pepper, stir well and place a lid on the pan.
Turn the heat to its lowest setting and cook for three hours, stirring every now and then. Add the cloves 20 minutes from the end. The meat is ready when it falls from the bone. Turn off the heat and allow the dish to cool to room temperature. It will taste all the better for this. Twenty minutes before eating, reheat the dish over a low heat and serve piping hot.