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The bulk of the cooking is done the day before because you must chill the soup and remove the impressive slab of fat that forms on top. Many recipes suggest a shorter simmering time than the 5 hours I indicate. While the flavour is well extracted from the meat after 3 or 4 hours, it takes the full 5 to dissolve the gelatine from the cartilage and that results in a far smoother and more fully bodied soup.
Place the segmented oxtails, 4 of the onions, sliced, and half the quantity of wine in a covered roasting dish and into a 180 oven for 1 ½ hours, shaking every so often to avoid either the oxtails or the juices burning.
Take from the oven and add ½ litre of water to soften all the browned meat and onion juices.
Slice the celery, carrots, flat mushrooms, garlic and remaining onions. Soften and lightly brown them with the oil in a large pot.
Add the whole peppercorns, bay leaves, sliced sundried tomatoes, roast oxtails, roast onion slices and dark brown juices from the pan.
Add the remaining wine and another litre of water, cover and simmer (stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t catch) for 5 hours.
Let cool, refrigerate overnight and remove the layer of fat.
Reheat and strain. Before serving add the half glass of port and simmer for 5 minutes.
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