'Two tails' - monkfish and oxtail, herb pancake, smoked bacon and parsnip

This hearty monkfish recipe by Will Holland is filled with autumnal flavours and would make a fantastic alternative to a Sunday roast, with meaty monkfish paired with salty pancetta, parsnips and a heady red wine sauce. The cooking time for the oxtail might seem a little long, but the sous vide technique will result draw out the meat's natural flavour resulting in meltingly tender flesh.

First published in 2015






Red wine sauce

Herb pancakes

Parsnip purée

To serve


  • Chamber sealer
  • Vacuum bags
  • Water bath
  • Steamer


Preheat a water bath to 90°C
Place a large pan over a high heat with a little oil. Season the oxtail, then sear in the hot pan until caramelized all over. Leave to cool before placing into a vacuum bag, ensuring that the pieces of oxtail don’t overlap. Seal the bag and cook in the water bath for 12 hours
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Place a large pan over a high heat, melt the butter and add the onions, mushrooms and garlic to the pan. Cook until caramelized, then add the red wine and reduce by half
Add the thyme, peppercorns and chicken stock to the pan and simmer over a medium heat until reduced to a sauce-like consistency, skimming the surface of the sauce regularly to remove any impurities. Once reduced, pass it through a fine sieve followed by a muslin cloth and reserve, keeping warm until ready to serve
Remove the cooked oxtail from the vacuum bag and flake the meat from the bone. Discard the bones and reserve the meat, keeping warm until required
For the pancakes, combine the ingredients together in a mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Pre-heat a small non-stick frying pan until hot, then add just enough of the pancake batter to coat the base of the pan. Cook for approximately 30 seconds on each side and tip onto a plate, repeating the process until you have four wafer thin pancakes
Line four small round moulds or ramekins each with a pancake and fill with the flaked oxtail. Fold the tops of the pancakes over to completely encase the oxtail and cover the moulds tightly in cling film. Reserve in the fridge until required
Preheat a water bath to 47°C
For the monkfish, line the work surface with a large piece of cling film and arrange the pancetta slices side by side over the top – the slices should overlap slightly along the length of the cling film to form a sheet of pancetta
Place the monkfish loin on top of the pancetta and roll the cling film around the monkfish and pancetta to form a wrapped monkfish loin. Tie each end with cling film then place in a vacuum bag and seal. Cook in the water bath for 30 minutes
Meanwhile, peel and roughly chop the parsnips for the purée. Place in a saucepan and cover with milk and water, then bring to the boil and simmer gently until the parsnips are soft and cooked through
  • 500g of parsnip
  • 400ml of milk
  • 400ml of water
Strain the cooked parsnips and transfer to a blender, then add the butter and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pass through a fine sieve, keeping warm until ready to serve
Fry the bacon in a non-stick frying pan without oil until completely crispy, then drain and leave to cool. Chop into a fine crumb or blitz in a food processor until it forms a coarse powder
Peel and cut the remaining parsnips into 2cm dice. Blanch in boiling salted water for 2–3 minutes, then plunge into iced water to refresh. Drain the parsnips and dry thoroughly on a kitchen towel
Heat a small amount of oil in a saucepan and add the parsnip dice. Gently fry until golden brown, then remove from the heat and add a small amount of honey, Parmesan cheese and finely grated lime zest
Steam the oxtail stuffed pancakes for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the monkfish from the vacuum bag and cling film and sear in a hot pan for 1 minute on all sides until the pancetta is coloured. Season, then allow to rest for a few minutes before carving into equal sized medallions
To serve, spoon a generous helping of sauce onto each plate and place the steamed pancakes into the centre. Swirl the parsnip purée around the pancake, top the pancake with a piece of monkfish and arrange pieces of parsnip in a circle across the purée. Sprinkle over a pinch of smoked bacon powder and serve

Will Holland's career path was set at age fourteen, at Bristol's Swallow Hotel under Michael Kitts. After training at college, Holland worked with Michelin-starred chefs at the Homewood Park Hotel and at Gravetye Manor Hotel.

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