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Oxtail Braised in Red Wine


(serves 4)
Oxtail is loaded with gelatinous cartilage and tendon, making it the ideal cut of beef to interact with the tannin in red wine. It’s a pairing made in heaven. When braised sufficiently, the meat neutralizes the astringent bitterness of the wine, the wine at the same time tenderizes and flavours the meat. Add some common vegetables into the mix and what you get is the tenderest, tastiest morsels of beef you have ever eaten.
 
Ingredients
  1. Oxtail (1kg)
  2. Large Carrots (2)
  3. Onions (2)
  4. Red Shallots (12)
  5. Garlic (1 bulb = 12 cloves) 
  6. Brown Mushrooms (150g)
  7. Red Wine(1-1/4 cups)
  8. Cloves (6)
  9. Bay Leaves (5)
  10. Oxo Beef Cubes (2)
  11. Campbell’s Oxtail Soup (1 can)
  12. Woustershire Sauce
  13. Mustard 

Preparation

  1. If there is connective tissue (white stuff) left on the outside of your oxtail, cut some slits parallel to the bone in these areas to expose the meat beneath. Place the oxtail in a deep pot which has 2 times as much internal volume as the meat. Top off the pot with boiling water until the meat is just covered, add 1-1/4 cups of red wine and bring to a boil. Use a fuller wine, i.e. preferably not Pinot Noir / Burgundy.
  2. Add the can of oxtail soup, 6 bay leaves, 6 cloves, 2 Oxo cubes and 2T woustershire sauce. Keep on a low simmer for about 3 hours. You don’t have to have the fire on the entire time if you don’t want to. I usually just simmer for 15 minutes and leave the pot covered for 45 minutes, three times.
  3. Slice your carrots into thick discs, each onion into 8 wedges, and each mushroom into 4 (or 2 if they are small). Peel the garlic and shallots but leave them whole.
  4. Fish out the oxtail into a deep casserole with a quarter of the liquid. Discard the bay leaves and cloves. Throw all the vegetables into the remaining oxtail soup in the pot and keep on a low simmer for 1 hour.
  5. In the meanwhile, microwave the meat on high, covered for 3×3 = 9 minutes. Before you start and every 3 minutes thereafter, roll the oxtail around to keep them moist.
  6. After the oxtail pieces have cooled, strip the meat from the bone. It should come off easily without any cutting. If not, send it back to the microwave. Keep the meat morsels drenched in the drippings to prevent them from drying out. With 10 minutes to go on the vegetable simmer, return the meat (and drippings) to the pot.
  7. For taste, add 1T sugar, 1t mustard and a generous sprinkle of black pepper. Finally add salt incrementally until the sweet taste from the sugar is masked. This varies with each person’s tastes so I won’t suggest an exact amount. 

Notes

  • I bet you’re thinking…hmmm if I want to complicate things and put the veggies in before I take out the meat, I can save quite some time. Yes that’s true. 
  • The microwaving helps melt the remaining fat and connective tissue. If you don’t have a microwave, then you’ll have to roast the oxtail in the oven – before putting them to boil in the pot. This is the traditional way of doing it but I prefer the microwave method as it is more convenient.
  • This is not oxtail in a red wine reduction, but it is similar. If you want to cook a wine reduction version, follow the above recipe but…
    • skip the can of soup
    • skip the onions
    • skip the mustard 
    • reduce the Oxo cubes to 1
    • at the end, fish out the veggies (to be served on the side) and reduce the liquid to concentrate it.
  • Other cuts of meat suitable for this recipe are beef ribs, brisket and cheek.
  • If you like love oxtail but not the taste of wine, try my Scottish Oxtail Stew recipe instead. 
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Posted by on June 5, 2012 in French, Main Courses, Recipe, Red Meat

 

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Farfalle in Oxtail Reduction, with Truffle


(serves 6 – appetizer size)
Ever come across that rare pasta dish that doesn’t use tomatoes, cheese, cream, olive oil or bits of meat? This is it. Its sauce is a high-gelatine reduction of oxtail consommé. Despite its simple appearance, I consider this to be one of my consummate pasta recipes. It has the full flavour of meat, but no meat itself and to round it off, the pasta is lightly topped with a few slices of truffle to give it the perfect aroma. It might take some time to prepare this dish, but its not technically difficult and it will be well worth the effort.

Ingredients

  1. Oxtail (800g)
  2. Dried Red Dates (20)
  3. Truffles Slices in Oil (60g bottle)
  4. Farfalle (300g)
  5. Fennel Seeds (1T)
  6. Thyme  
  7. Oxo Beef Cubes (2)
  8. Brandy

Preparation 

  1. Make deep slits across the white connective tissue to expose the meat beneath. Place the oxtail in a pot and top off with boiling water till the meat is just covered. Use a pot where all your oxtail can fit in without stacking, but keep it as small as possible to minimize the amount of water.
  2. Apply low heat and keep at a slow simmer for 1 hour followed by 2 hours of gradual cooling while covered. Top off with water occasionally to keep the oxtail covered. Repeat the simmer/cooling a seond time. 
  3. Add the red dates and do the simmer/cooling a third time, but this time don’t top up with water. If you add all that up, the minimum cooking time is 9 hours. It would be best if you let the oxtail cool overnight while you sleep in one of the cycles.

    nothing but oxtail, red dates, water and lots of simmering

  4. When the meat is finally shrinking away from the bone (see photo), remove all the solids from the pot. In a bowl dissolve 2 Oxo beef cubes and 1t sugar in half a cup of hot water. Add this beef stock plus 1T fennel seeds, 1T chopped thyme, 2T Brandy to the pot.
  5. Reduce under low heat till the mixture begins to thicken. Cover and allow to cool. This concludes the pre-preparation phase.
  6. When its close to dinner time, boil a new pot of water with a knob of butter and pinch of salt. Half cook your pasta in this and then strain it.
  7. Put your concentrated oxtail bullion through a fine tea strainer to remove all solids and pour the resulting sauce into a non-stick pan and reheat till boiling. Add the half cooked pasta to the pan and stir fry it in the sauce till it is al dente. You’ll probably need to add water to keep the pan from drying up, but add only a bit at a time. At the very end, taste and decide if you need to add salt.
  8. Arrange the pasta on dishes and top off with a few pieces of truffle and a very light drizzle of the oil the truffle is soaked in. A small 60g bottle should be enough but you can use more if you like. If you have fresh truffles to shave on, all the better.

Notes

  • The cooked meat can be stripped from the bone and shredded for a second dish like braised oxtail, oxtail shepherds pie or jellied oxtail; no point letting all that work to soften it go to waste. Remember to drench the shredded meat in some of the bullion to keep it from hardening.
  • Why use oxtail when plain beef is so much easier to work with? It is the gelatine extracted from the connective tissue that makes this recipe work, so you need to use either the tail, cheeks or a certain part of the ribs. For a pork version, the trotters will work as well as the tail.
  • I picked bow-tie pasta because its shape is perfect for capturing the sauce. When you look at the picture, you can see the pasta is brown because it is completely coated. If you want to try something else, stick to small pasta that is in plain wheat colour.
  • Dried red dates are a common Korean/Chinese ingredient for soup and they go really well with beef. Another good thing about them is they float, so they won’t get stuck under the oxtail and become burnt during the long simmer (and thats why we didn’t throw in the herbs until the final reduction phase). If you can’t find dried red dates, go with fresh wedges of apple.
  • If you find truffles too costly, you can just use truffle oil without the truffles. Or try other garnishes. Pick those with a strong aroma and weak flavour, for example: Deep fried shallots, pan fried fennel or perhaps coriander/cilantro leaves.
 
 

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Scottish Oxtail Stew


(serves 6)
The tail is one of the best parts of a cow for stewing. It is loaded with gelatin and its meat gets softer the longer you cook it. My particular version of oxtail stew uses barley as one of its ingredients, and contains no tomatoes or wine, hence my choice of a Scotch prefix.  The barley results in a very hearty stew, perfect for cold weather. Its a meal in itself, with no need for additional stapels or vegetarian side dishes. 
 
Ingredients
  1. Oxtail (1.5kg)
  2. Large Carrots (2)
  3. Onions (2)
  4. Potatoes (2) 
  5. Mushrooms (250g)
  6. Small Cabbage (1/2)
  7. Pearl Barley(1/3 cup)
  8. Black-eyed Beans (1/2 cup)
  9. Tarragon
  10. Oregano
  11. Bay Leaves
  12. Oxo Beef Cubes (3)
  13. Campbell’s Oxtail Soup (1 can)
  14. Whisky
  15. Woustershire Sauce 

Preparation – Part I

  1. If there is connective tissue (white stuff) left on the outside of your oxtail, cut some slits parallel to the bone in these areas to expose the meat beneath. Place the oxtail in a deep pot which has 3 times as much internal volume as the meat. Top off the pot with boiling water until the meat is just covered and bring to a boil.
  2. Add the can of oxtail soup, 6 bay leaves, 1T tarragon, 1T oregano and 2 Oxo cubes. Keep on a low simmer, covered, for about 3 hours. 
  3. Dice up half of your carrots, onions, mushrooms and fry them in a large non-stick saucepan with a knob of butter. This portion of the vegetables is meant to disintegrate, so chop them up finely and don’t worry about being tidy. After about fifteen minutes in the pan, add two cups of water with a Oxo cube dissolved in it, 1/3 cup of barley and 1/2 cup of black-eyed beans. Simmer this, again covered, for about an hour.
  4. If either the pot or saucepan starts to get low on water, add some to prevent them from drying up. When they are done, leave them covered with the heat off to settle for a few hours. This is the end of the preparatory stage and should be done several hours ahead of time or even the night before.

Preparation – Part II

  1. Now the final stage. Cut the remaining vegetables into sizes you want to see in the final stew. I normall cut the onion into 8 wedges, the mushrooms into quarters, the cabbage into 2 wedges and the carrots into round discs. The 2 potatoes should be peeled and diced into 1 inch pieces.
  2. Fish out the oxtail into a deep casserole with a bit of the soup, discard the bay leaves and microwave on high, covered for 9 minutes. The microwaving helps melt some of the remaining fat and connective tissue. Before you start and every 3 minutes thereafter, roll the oxtail around to keep them moist.
  3. Throw all the vegetables into the oxtail soup, including the pre-cooked vegetables from the sauce pan, and again bring to a low simmer.
  4. When the oxtail pieces has been microwaved, return them together with any drippings, to the pot. Stir every minute or so, until the new set of vegetables begin to soften. Then you add the final seasoning during the last ten minutes of cooking.
  5. For taste, add 3T sugar, 3T whisky, 3T woustershire sauce and a generous sprinkle of black pepper. Finally add salt incrementally until the sweet taste from the sugar disappears. This varies with each person’s tastes so I won’t suggest an exact amount. 

Notes

  • Why are we cooking the vegetables seperately from the oxtail? Because the small bits invariably get trapped under the oxtail and become burnt at the bottom of the pot. This way, you don’t have to watch the pot and keep stirring for several hours.   
  • Why are we cooking the vegetables seperately from each other? If we put all the vegetables in from the beginning, everything will disintegrate into a porridge. This way you get the wholesomeness of long cooked caramelized vegetables, plus some recognizable pieces when you serve.
  • Make sure you use polished pearl barley. The rougher partially polished hull barley is not edible and is meant to be discarded after cooking, or for distilling alcohol.
  • If you don’t have a microwave, then you’ll have to roast the oxtail in the oven – before putting them to boil in the pot. This is the traditional way of doing it but I prefer the microwave method as it is more convenient. Besides, it allows me to use a pot of a more manageable size.
  • The picture shows the entire stew on one plate. This is purely for aesthetics. Normally I’d serve the meat on a plate and the stew seperately in a bowl. If I am in a generous mood, I sometimes even strip the oxtail of meat at the end, which I then mix into the stew.
  • If you prefer your oxtail stewed French style, check out my oxtail braised in red wine recipe.
 
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Posted by on October 24, 2010 in English, Main Courses, Recipe, Red Meat

 

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