Thursday, February 12, 2009

WHAT'S COOKIN' (Oxtail Stew)

Tired of people asking you what are oxtails? Oxtails aren’t really from the tail of an ox, they are beef steer's tail and have a delicious rich and distinctive flavor and excellent for stew. Like most stews, oxtail stew is best slow cooked for several hours. My father remembers when he was growing up and eating oxtails. He said it was considered a special dish for dinner because it was beef. Ox tail cost pennies a pound and you would need 3 or 4 pounds to make a meal. Now they are considered choice cut- hard to come by and expensive. He figures that the "government" finally caught on that it was soul food and they drove the prices up on the beef tails, just like what happen to pork when it received the name soul food.


1 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
2 cubes beef bouillon
10 cups water
6 whole black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup oil
3 pounds beef oxtail
1 large onion, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup cornstarch dissolved in ½ cup water

1. Place celery, garlic, tomato paste, bouillon cubes, and water into a large Dutch oven; stir until the tomato paste has dissolved. Add peppercorns and bay leaves, place over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oxtail and cook until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove oxtail from hot oil and place into Dutch oven. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon of oil from the skillet, reduce heat to medium, and cook the onion until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes; add to oxtail.
3. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 2 1/2 hours. Season with salt and pepper, recover, and continue to cook until the oxtail is tender, but not falling off of the bone, about 30 minutes.
4. Remove oxtail pieces and place into a serving dish. Dutch oven and return to a simmer. Thicken with cornstarch dissolved in water, simmer for 1 minute until thickened and clear. Pour sauce over the oxtail.

Oxtail should be ready when a knife slices easily through the meat. It should not be overcooked otherwise it will fall off the bones and go stringy - and if not cooked long enough it will not come off the bones easily enough. I normally find 4 hours cooking is just perfect.
Like most soul food, sitting overnight in the refrigerator, then rehearing for dinner the next day they are even better, this is what we call good eat’n.

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