Friday, February 21, 2014

Home Cookin' - Oxtails: What do you do with them?

 Liberty Delight Farms
Oxtails
as prepared by
Pleasures of the Table
You may have read about Oxtail before. Some of you may have had it, but it's not a hugely popular dish anymore. I'm not sure why, but it may be that it requires a little more time than some people care to spend cooking. In any event, it's one of my favorite cold-weather dishes to make and eat.
The tails are literally cow tails. The nice thing about them is that the meat, after braising, holds together nicely and there is a huge amount of collagen in the tail-bone that gives the stew a rich texture.
It's a great dish when you've got some spare time to spend in the kitchen as I did when I went to Snowshoe Mountain last weekend. I prepared it over a two-day period. Well worth the time spent.
Here's how they look coming off the truck. Either leave them in your fridge for a day or two to thaw or leave them in the package in a cold-water bath for an hour or two to thaw.
I actually left them frozen and used them as ice-packs in my cooler for the trip up the mountain.
 I used some random vegetables that I brought up with me. Peppers, carrots, parsnips, garlic, shallots, and celery.
I diced up all the vegetables, tossed them and the tails in a little bacon fat left from breakfast, added salt, pepper, and dusted them with flour, then let them roast for an our at 375, turning a few times.
After the tails had browned a bit I added a can of chopped tomatoes, a couple of bay leafs and four cups of beef stock and covered them tightly and left them in the oven for about 3 hours at 325. When I took them out of the oven, the meat was tender and easily separated from the bones, which you discard. Put the meat back in with the vegetables and let it cool, then put covered in the fridge for dinner the next night.
I skimmed a lot of fat before I put it in the fridge, but a lot more will solidify on the top when it's fully chilled. You can easily scoop it off. Don't be too heavy-handed with the removal though as a lot of the flavor is fat-soluble, so you don't want to remove it all.
Heat it back up slowly to just a simmer and stir in some cooked lentils or beans if you prefer, add 1/2 a teaspoon of allspice, a teaspoon of time, salt and pepper to taste.
And there you have it. Hearty, rich, flavorful stew to keep you warm and satisfy hearty appetites.
Thanks for reading. If you try it, let me know how it turned out!
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