Braised oxtails - help please..
I would like to make braised oxtails. I have never attempted this before. I would welcome any recipes and general suggestions you have.
I would like to make them as a main dish and was also thinking about shredding the cooked meat and using it in a pasta sauce tossed with rigatoni.
Thanks for any help you can provide.
Cook the tails beforehand till tender. This gives you plenty of time, lets you skim the fat off the stock. It is also easier to handle the pieces, separating meat, bones and fat.
There are lots of good recipes out there. Regardless of recipe I always brown the pieces in the oven at 450 for 10-15 mins each side (renders a lot of the fat) and then braise them with onions, garlic, tomatoes, wine etc. I also always cook them a day ahead, strain them out of the sauce, and refrigerate both in separate bowls overnight to allow the fat to come to the surface so it can be taken off once cold. Combine the two and relheat to serve. The best ones I ever made were done with about 1/2 cup tamarind soaked in hot water and strained added to the braising liquid. The slight sourness was a nice counterpoint to the richness of the meat.
gosh, pasta is my favourite way to serve oxtail, too! Actually, all braised meats...
Oxtail is easy as long as you remember:
- it takes 4- 4.5 hours
- it is best done the day before, so you can chill it and scrape off the congealed fat before reheating and serving (and like most meaty dishes, I think it tastes better on day 2. Flavours have had time to sink in).
- flavourful braising comes from a flavourful braising liquid/sauce.
There's lots of recipes, but I basically make a winey tomato sauce with lots of onions and sometimes chopped carrots (add stock if you have any, otherwise use wine to loosen the sauce), more liquidy than for pasta, in the casserole dish I browned the meat in, return the meat to the sauce, and braise in a slightly low oven (150C, 320F), covered for the first 3 hours. Turn the meat every hour, and add more hot water from the kettle if the meat is not almost-covered by the braising liquid.
If you want juicy vegetable chunks in your finished dish, add these after 2.5-3 hours. If you put your mushrooms, pearl onions, etc. in at the beginning, after 4 hours they will have given all their flavour to the braise, and so be pretty bland and mushy. So I put some finely chopped veg in at the beginning (Carrots, sliced onions, maybe a dried mushroom or two) to flavour the sauce, and add my nicely cut veg chunks in only for the last hour, so they have good texture and flavour still. Whether you want veg chunks for a pasta sauce is up to you (me not so much, my man, very much so!).
Since it takes so long to cook, it's worth making extra and freezing it (I feel all warm inside knowing I have oxtail pasta sauce stashed in single serving tupperwares in my deepfreeze! My kind of food security...). Two weeks ago I used two good sized oxtails (pick thick rather than long and thin pieces if you can) to feed four of us, with enough leftovers for three more generous servings.
Let us know how it goes!