Flatdog’s Oxtail and Basil Dumplings

Wherever you are on the planet, ask a local if you want to know where to get fantastic food. If you are in Zambia’s Luangwa Valley, the recommendation that will consistently top the list is Flatodgs Camp.

Flatdogs Camp is well known for fabulous food, and they understand that it all starts with excellent ingredients. In fact, Flatdogs jumped on the hyperlocal food bandwagon long before it became an international foodie phenomenon. In years past, it was challenging to find a variety of ingredients in Luangwa Valley, so Flatdogs mentored local farmers to become suppliers for everything from celeriac to zucchini.

Ade from Flatdog's Camp and the chef standing by a sign with today's specials

Oxtail and Dumplings – a Flatdog’s Camp Favourite

We asked Ade, one of the owners of Flatdogs, about his favourite meal and the camp’s Oxtail and Dumplings immediately came to mind. Here’s why:

Ade – “Taking advantage of our fantastic local supplier, Mayana Farms, who rear all their own cross breed cattle in a free-range, grass-fed environment, we try and use as much of the animal as possible. Their prime Angus/Brahman beef is hung and dry-aged for us for 30 days to add flavour to an already incredible product.

And although the prime rib and fillet are superb when cooked by our expert chefs, I think the slow-cooked oxtail showcases everything we try to celebrate by using local suppliers. The accompanying basil dumplings are a different yet perfectly suited partner to this dish full of flavour, rich and utterly delicious. In addition, we usually add a few simple steamed green vegetables from our local supplier to bring a lightness to the dish.”

Here is how to recreate the fabulous smells and wholesome goodness of Flatdog’s Oxtail and Dumplings at home:

Oxtail and Dumplings Ingredients

2 tbsp plain flour
2 kg oxtail
4 tbsp sunflower oil
2 onions chopped
3 carrots & 2 celery sticks chopped into small chunks
2 cloves of garlic chopped
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 Bay leaves
Sprigs of thyme tied in a bunch
1 bottle good red wine and 200ml of good beef stock
For the Dumplings
300g self-raising flour
A large bunch of basil
75 g butter
3 egg whites
Olive oil for serving

Oxtail Cooking Method

Preheat the oven to 180deg C.
Season the flour with salt and pepper, and toss the oxtail until evenly coated.
Heat the oil in a heavy casserole dish and brown the meat in small batches.
Remove the meat and add the veg and garlic.
Fry for a few minutes until it takes on some colour, then add the tomato puree and herbs.
Place the seared meat back in the pan and pour over the wine and stock.
Season and bake for around 3 hours until the meat is beautifully tender and almost falls off the bone.

Dumplings Cooking Method

To make the dumplings tip the flour and basil into a food processor with a decent pinch of salt and blitz until the basil is finely chopped.
Add the butter and blitz until the texture is like breadcrumbs, then gradually add the egg whites until everything comes together.
On a floured surface, gently roll the dumplings into small walnut size balls.
Cover with a damp cloth until ready to cook.
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, drop the dumplings in, simmer lightly for about 15 minutes, and then take them out with a slotted spoon.
Serve in a large bowl with a drizzle of olive oil, some oxtail with a good helping of rich sauce and some lightly steamed green veg of your choice.

A chef from Flatdog's Camp in South Luangwa servicing oxtail and dumplings