Steamed bread grilled cheese with slow-cooked oxtail

Steamed bread grilled cheese with slow-cooked oxtail

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  • 4
  • Medium
  • 40 minutes, plus 40 minutes’ proving time
  • 2 hours

"I wish I could say this sandwich came to me in a dream, but it’s my friend Lesego’s idea which I adapted just a little. It’s a tiny bit of effort with maximum reward! The big cheese here is Comté, a creamy, aromatic cheese from the French Alps that has a nutty, sweet, almost smoky flavour. It’s simple at its core, but nothing about this grilled cheese is plain. Every bite feels like the last ever. If you couldn’t be bothered to make the oxtail, cheat with Woolies’ ready-cooked oxtail, which just needs a moment in the oven. I order you to get up and make this sandwich, right now. My sonka samanzi memories are having it hot out of the pot, slicing it too soon and spreading it with margarine and apricot jam. I’ve adapted the sonka samanzi recipe from the late mam’Dorah Sitole and it’s a complete banger. Her recipe gets an egg, which was of great interest to me. There’s also a particular Frenchness about this sandwich, with the Merlot in the oxtail, the Comté … it’s all very, very delicious and indulgent and serious. So, real cooks only!" – Khanya Mzongwana


  • 1 kg oxtail
  • 40 g cake flour
  • 4 T Woolworths steak rub
  • 4 T canola oil
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 stick celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 sprig sage
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 100 g tomato paste
  • 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 cups Merlot
  • For the steamed bread:
  • 700 g cake flour
  • 10 g instant dry yeast
  • 1 T salt
  • 4 T sugar
  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 4 T canola oil
  • To assemble:
  • 200 g Ayrshire mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 100 g Woolworths Comté cheese, grated
  • 100 ml Woolworths reduced fat cheese sauce

Cooking Instructions

1. Coat the oxtail in the flour and steak rub. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Fry the oxtail until browned and place in a bowl.

2. In the same pan, fry the onion, celery and carrot until translucent. Add the herbs and garlic and fry for a further minute. Add the oxtail and tomato paste and stir well. Pour in the stock and Merlot and stir.

3. Simmer for 1 ½   hours, or until the meat is soft and begins to fall off the bone. Strain the cooking liquid and set aside.

4. Place the oxtail in a bowl and allow to cool. Pour the gravy into a saucepan and simmer until the liquid has thickened. Set aside until ready to use. Once the oxtail has cooled, remove the meat off the bones.

5. To make the steamed bread, combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.

6. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and gradually stir the egg and water until a shaggy dough forms. Add more flour if necessary.

7. Place the dough on a clean, floured surface. Knead the dough until smooth and firm. Cover with a tea towel and allow to prove for about 40 minutes, or until doubled in size.

8. Place the dough in a lightly greased, heatproof bowl that will fit into a large saucepan. Add about 4 cups of water to the pan and place the bowl of dough inside. Steam the bread for 1 hour, or until cooked through. Allow to cool completely before slicing.

9. To assemble the sandwiches, place 4 slices of the steamed bread on a board. Top with alternating layers of mozzarella, Comté and oxtail and end with a squeeze of cheese sauce.

10. Heat the butter in a pan. Add the sandwiches and fry on both sides until the cheese has completely melted. Slice in half and serve immediately with the gravy for dipping.

Find more South African recipes here. 

Photography: Shavan Rahim
Videography: Romy Wilson


Khanya Mzongwana Recipe by: Khanya Mzongwana
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If you're anything like our deputy food editor Khanya Mzongwana, you're obsessed with uniqueness and food with feeling. Cook her family-tested favourites, midweek winners and her mouth-wateringly fresh takes on plant-based eating.

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